China’s Uighur unrest: ‘terrorism’ or provocation?

Chinese authorities shot dead eight ethnic Uighurs who attempted to attack a police patrol Feb. 14 in Uchturpan (Chinese: Wushi) county, Aksu prefecture, Xinjiang. Three more were were reportedly killed by their own improvised explosive devices. China's state news agency Xinhua called the attack an "organized, premeditated terrorist assault targeting the police." But Dilxat Raxit of the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress said: "Chinese armed officers' violent rooting out and provocation are the reason for Uighur resistance. The so-called terrorism is China's political excuse of directly shooting dead those who take a stand." (Xinhua, Feb. 16; BBC NewsRFA, Feb. 14)

A report in Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper of ongoing harassment of Uighurs in Xinjiang cites claims of residents in an unnamed locale that authorities last year broke up worship services at a mosque, saying they constituted "illegal religious activity." Angry residents headed for the local government offices to protest, and many were detained by police in an ensuing clash. Some were reported to have been injured or killed, although exact numbers were not given. (Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 16)