New deadly Xinjiang raid comes to light

Security forces in China’s far western Xinjiang region last month shot and killed at least 12 men and wounded 20 others during a raid on what authorities described as a “terrorist facility,” Radio Free Asia reported Sept. 17. Local officials told Radio Free Asia that the men had been building and testing explosives at a desert encampment near Jigdejay village, Poskam county (Chinese: Zepu), outside the city of Kashgar. One resident said the police were tipped off to the presence of the encampment after a rocket launcher the men were trying to build accidentally exploded, killing one of them.  

The Aug. 23 raid, which was kept quiet until this week, came just three days after authorities in Xinjiang’s Kargilik (Chinese: Yecheng) county gunned down 22 Uighurs during another “anti-terrorism” operation—reportedly, while they were praying in a house at the edge of a desert area. (NYT, Sept. 18 via UHRPRFA, Sept. 17)

Also this week, Chinese authorities sentenced three ethnic Uighurs to death after linking them to deadly June violence in Lukchun township of Pichan (Chinese: Shanshan) county, Xinjiang. The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress condemned the death sentences, saying the charges were not substantiated and the verdict was pre-determined. (RFA, Sept. 13)

In another example of what Uighur activists call state interference in freedom of religion, Chinese authorities have reportedly placed the flag of the People’s Republic at the head of the mosque in Aksu (Bharuka), Xinjiang. The flag was draped over the mihrab, the traditional prayer niche that points the direction to Mecca. “They are essentially saying the flag is higher than religion,” Uighur rights advocate Ilham Tohti told Al Jazeera. “They placed the flag at a very sensitive place in the mosque.”  (OnIslam, Sept. 19 via World Uyghur Congress)

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