Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang in solidarity with Tibetans

In China it's not just Tibet where a minority population simmers with discontent, reports the WSJ:

On March 23 demonstrators in a market in the southern Xinjiang city of Hotan unfurled banners and handed out fliers urging their fellow Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers) to join an independence movement, the government there says. Police moved quickly to silence what authorities described in a statement issued Tuesday as "a small group" of Uighurs trying to "trick the masses into an uprising."

Fu Chao, an official with the Hotan district administration, said the Uighur protesters had been inspired by events in Tibet and that they were calling for the creation of an independent Islamic state in Xinjiang.

Security in Xinjiang has been stepped up. Uighur activists say that as soon as protests started in Tibet, China began detaining suspected Uighur dissidents in an effort to prevent unrest from spreading to Xinjiang, which shares a long border with Tibet.

Tensions had already been building. Chinese officials say they arrested a Uighur woman last month who was part of a failed Muslim separatist plot to hijack a Chinese jetliner. In February, Chinese police also raided what they said was a meeting of Islamic terrorists and shot and killed two men and arrested 15 others near Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi.

The article notes that Beijing's approach to dealing with its minorities seems to be faltering. Chinese imperialism is in this Turkic province of China is advanced by the Chinese equivalent of the East India Company: Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. Its members "can function as an armed militia" notes the WSJ.

One wonders whether the riots of Lhasa which saw the burning of a Mosque and the trashing of Muslim shops might not have been instigated by the state as a tactic to sow division between the Tibetan and Uighur freedom movements. This is pure speculation on my part. On the other hand, I understand the Muslims in Lhasa are not Uighur Muslims but Chinese Muslims, and they control a lot of the businesses in the Tibetan capital.

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