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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

World Uyghur Congress on Hotan Situation

July 29, 2011

Press release – For immediate release
19 July 2011
Contact:  World Uyghur Congress www.uyghurcongress.org
Tel. 0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 or e-mail contact@uyghurcongress.org
http://www.uyghurcongress.org/en/?p=9277

Based on several witness accounts, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) has
serious doubts about the official version of the incident in Hotan,
East Turkestan. While the WUC unequivocally condemns all acts of
violence, it urges the international community to view Chinese state
media reports on the incident with extreme skepticism and caution
since similar events in the past have proven that the Chinese
government is systematically spreading false information and
suppressing any information that contradicts its official narrative.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, “thugs” forced their way
into a police station, where they took hostages and engaged in a
gunfight that resulted in several people dead. However, according to
sources in Hotan, the shooting took place not at a police station, but
at the close main bazaar of Hotan, in the Nurbagh area, when more than
100 local Uyghurs peacefully gathered to protest a police crackdown
imposed on the city for the last two weeks. Demonstrators gathered and
demanded to know the whereabouts of relatives who had gone missing
into police custody. Police opened then fire on the demonstrators,
killing at least 20 people. Based on information received from one
hospital in Hotan, another 12 people were injured seriously, among
them four women and an 11-year-old girl named Hanzohre. In addition,
more than 70 people were arrested. The WUC fears the number of
causalities to be much higher. Since the roads to Hotan city have been
blocked by Chinese security forces and incoming and out-coming people
are controlled and searched and martial law was imposed by the
authorities in Hotan, it is difficult to obtain information on the
incident. In addition, Chinese authorities immediately blocked
internet searches on the incident within China to avoid that news on
the events are spread in the country.

The Chinese government is, in typical fashion, attributing the Hotan
incident to the “three forces” (terrorism, separatism, and religious
extremism). The authorities regularly use the fact that the Uyghurs
happen to be Muslim to appeal to racist stereotypes that unfortunately
exist about Muslims and portray the Uyghurs as religious extremists
and terrorists. Uyghurs have long practiced a moderate, traditional
form of Sunni Islam, strongly infused with the folklore and traditions
of a rural, oasis-dwelling population and religious extremism has no
roots in Uyghurs’ practice of Islam and remains scarce among the
Uyghurs. As during the July 2009 events of Urumqi, the Chinese
authorities’ distorted portrayal of the Hotan incident is an attempt
to avoid dealing with the actual root causes of such events, namely,
the crackdown on Uyghur culture, identity, freedom of expression and
religion, as well as the ongoing economic discrimination of Uyghurs in
East Turkestan. After the July 2009 events, Chinese officials stated
that 197 people were killed during the incidents. However, numerous
eyewitness accounts provided to Amnesty International, Uyghur human
rights organizations, and media outlets have indicated that security
forces committed extrajudicial killings of protesters and that in fact
around 1000 people were killed.

The WUC urges the Chinese government to allow international media and
observers to freely and independently investigate the incident in
Hotan to reveal the real circumstances of the events, and to stop its
ongoing crackdown on Uyghurs in all areas of their life to avoid a
further destabilization of the situation.

For media inquiries please contact:

Dilshat Rexit, WUC Spokesman

Mobile: +46 73 69 41 922

E-mail: uyghur50@gmail.com  

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