The Uyghur American Association condemns Chinese escalating state violence against Uyghurs demonstrated in recent Yilkiqi incident

For immediate Release
August 28, 2013, 5:00 pm EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 478 1920

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) condemns the August 20, 2013 killing of 22 Uyghurs in Yilkiqi, Kargilik County by Chinese authorities. The incident underscores the Chinese government’s refusal to abide by international standards of human rights and is the latest in a number of deadly incidents in 2013 indicating an unacceptable escalation of repression against Uyghurs. Furthermore, UAA expresses distress over mounting state killings of Uyghurs in East Turkestan and asks the international community to view Chinese claims of terrorism made against Uyghurs with utmost skepticism.

“Another Chinese raid on so called Uyghur terrorists brings more death, pain and sadness to East Turkestan. It appears the Chinese authorities are only prepared to offer state sanctioned violence as a solution to the Uyghur issue. The belief that in repeating its terror narrative the Chinese government will convince the world its repression of Uyghurs is justified must not be realized,” said UAA president, Alim Seytoff in a statement from Washington, DC. “No independent evidence has been produced to verify Chinese government claims that it killed so-called Uyghur terrorists. The international community should investigate these claims and express concern over mounting Uyghur deaths.” 

In an article dated August 25, 2013, Radio Free Asia (RFA) revealed the killing of “at least” 15 Uyghurs in the southern township of Yilkiqi during a raid. Yilkiqi police chief Batur Osman told RFA the raid was an “anti-terror operation” targeted at Uyghurs accused of “terrorism and illegal religious activity.” A Yilkiqi resident interviewed by RFA believed the number killed was higher. A second report on the incident from RFA dated August 27, 2013 cited Mahmut Han of the Islamic Association in Yilkiqi who stated 22 Uyghurs had been killed in the raid. Four Uyghurs were arrested in the operation. RFA also described the immediate “on the spot” burial of the dead Uyghurs.

Radio Free Asia detailed how police surrounded the Uyghurs after the Uyghur men had gathered for prayers. A local resident said that the police then fired on the men. The resident added one of the Uyghurs killed owned a house at the location of the incident and that the other Uyghurs were working for him on a farm close by. The resident added: “They work in the day and pray at night at the house.” According to an article in the Kashgar Daily News one Han Chinese policeman was killed in the operation.

In a recent report, the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) documented how Chinese authorities have established an increasing number of regulations in recent years targeting Uyghur religious belief and practice. The regulations have narrowed the scope of permissible expressions of the Islamic faith among Uyghurs. Regulations have restricted the kinds of people who can attend mosques, become imams and provide religious education. According to the UHRP report, due to the confusing nature of the various regulations governing religious life many Uyghurs were unsure as to what constituted legal practice. Universal religious freedom is protected under Article 18 of the normative human rights standards outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. China’s domestic laws, such as the Constitution and the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law, have strong provisions on freedom of religious belief.

The killings come after a series of incidents across East Turkestan in 2013. The Chinese government has labeled the incidents in Maralbeshi in April, Lukchun in June, Hanerik also in June and Akyol in August as terror incidents. The Chinese government often conflates Islam with terrorism in order to justify repression of the Uyghur people. Citing a survey undertaken by AP, the Uighurbiz website highlighted an increase in terror arrests worldwide in the decade after 9/11. Of the 66 countries surveyed, accounting for 70% of the world’s population, China was one of two countries accounting for half of the 35,117 terror related convictions recorded. The AP article concluded “dozens of countries are using the fight against terrorism to curb political dissent.”

See also:

Unlawful house search and arbitrary use of lethal force results nearly two dozen deaths in Kashgar - April 24, 2013:

Harsh sentencing of Uyghurs sends message of fear before fourth anniversary of July 5, 2009 unrest - June 20, 2013:

The Uyghur American Association calls on the Chinese government to substantiate terror claims with an open and independent investigation - June 28, 2013:

The Uyghur American Association expresses concern at massive build up of Chinese security forces in East Turkestan - July 1, 2013:

UAA Condemns Shootings by Police During Religious Celebration - August 14, 2013: