China blames Kunming attack on Uighur ‘terrorists’

Local authorities in Kunming, capital of China's Yunnan province, said March 2 that a deadly mass knife attack at the city's main rail station that morning was "orchestrated by Xinjiang separatist forces," the official news agency Xinhua reported. At least 29 were killed and more than 130 injured as a group of black-clad men chased down and stabbed commuters in the early-morning rush hour. Five suspects were shot by police, and it is unclear how many may have escaped. President Xi Jinping pldged to respond "with all-out efforts and punish the terrorists in accordance with the law." (Xinhua, Xinhua, Xinhua, March 2)

In a testament to growing unrest in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regionpolice fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of spontaneous protesters angry at a crackdown on motorcyclists at a marketplace in Tusul village, outside Hotan on Feb. 27. The fracas reportedly began after hundreds of shoppers surrounded a group of about ten police agents involved in the crackdown. (RFA, Feb. 28)

Uighur blogger and academic Ilham Tohti, who has been held incommunicado and without charge since being arrested at his home in Beijing on Jan. 15, has now apparently been fomrally charged with "separatism." Tohti's wife, Guzaili Nu'er, told foreign reporters that she was informed of the charge on Feb. 25, and also told that her husband is at a detention center in Xinjiang, about 2,000 miles away from their home in Beijing. Tohti's lawyer, Li Fangping, told Reuters that if convicted of separatism, Tohti could face between 10 years and life in prison, or even a death sentence. Li has not been allowed to meet with Tohti during his time in custody, the reports said.

The Xinjiang Public Security Bureau released a statement after his arrest, accusing Tohti of fomenting ethnic hatred through Uighurbiz, the website he founded several years ago. The statement said that the website "concocted, distorted and hyped up" acts of ethnic bloodshed. The website has been shut down since his detention, according to reports. (CPJ, Feb. 26)

  1. Terror blasts in Urumqi

    Chinese authorities say religious extremists carried out an apparent suicide bombing on April 30 at a railway station in Urumqi that left three people dead and 79 wounded. State media said two of those killed were the attackers, who stabbed people with knives and then detonated explosives they were carrying. Official reports called the attack a "violent terrorist attack" and said the two suspects had "long been involved in religious extremism."

    President Xi Jinping, who was just finishing a visit to the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region when the attack occurred, demanded "decisive action" after the attack.

    Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the exile group the World Uyghur Congress, claimed more than 100 Uighurs had been detained since the April 30 attack. (RFE/RL, May 2)

  2. China pledges ‘heavy fist’ against ‘terrorists’

    A man with a knife slashed at least six people in a brazen late-morning assault outside a rail station in Guangzhou May 6. Witnesses described the attackers as dressed in white and wearing white caps, often worn by Muslims, but it was not confirmed that they were Uighurs. It was the third such attack since March. Meng Jianzhu, the Communist Party’s chief official for domestic law enforcement, ordered police and law officials to start a campaign “dedicated to fighting terrorist violence,” Xinhua reported. “Use a heavy hand, strike with a heavy fist, and beat down the arrogance of violent terrorists, ensuring that people live and work in peace,” Meng said. (LAT, NYT)

    The Uyghur American Association meanwhile condemned the extrajudicial killing of 17-year-old Uyghur student Abdulbasit Ablimit by police in Kelpin county, Aksu prefecture. Ablimit was shot alongside two companions after an apparent traffic violation, and police allegedly beat and detained relatives of the victims and local Uighurs who protested the killing. UAA president Alim Seytoff said in a statement: "The unlawful killing of Abdulbasit Ablimit is not an isolated tragedy. As Ablimit's family mourns his death, authorities have answered their call for justice with a merciless response. A clear pattern has emerged in East Turkestan in which Uyghurs are unlawfully killed by state agents with impunity, and anyone who questions this state brutality is punished. That a young man would lose his life over a traffic violation demonstrates the appallingly little regard China holds for the lives of its Uyghur citizens." (UAA, April 14)