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 Region, police 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)