Unrest rocks China, Indonesia

Updated On: Aug 01, 2011

Unrest in China has continued to boil as of late, with ethnic tensions running high in Xinjiang region over the weekend.

Two Muslim Uighurs hijacked a truck that was waiting at a traffic light in the city of Kashgar, near Kyrgyzstan, killed the driver, and then crashed the truck into pedestrians on a nearby sidewalk. The assailants then exited the vehicle, and began stabbing people at random, leaving six people dead on the pavement. In total, the attackers killed seven and injured 28 before the crowd turned on them and killed one of the assailants, and captured the other.

The day after the knife attacks, an explosion rocked the same city, killing three and injuring three more.  

The city has a large population of Muslim Uighurs who are displeased with what they see as oppressive government treatment and political and religious repression.  The Uighurs also complain of the unwanted migration of the dominant Han ethnic group into the area. While they acknowledge that standards of living have improved, they claim that the Han have enjoyed most of the gains.

A spokesman for a Uighur exhile group based in Germany, the World Uyghur Congress, said, “Beijing should accept the responsibility that repression triggered [the weekend’s attacks].”

Report & Analysis: China’s Xinjiang hit by deadly kinfe attack, blast [ChannelNews Asia, 31 Jul 2011] 

The Chinese government called the group a bunch of Muslim extremists, and
claimed that the group's leaders were trained in Pakistani camps.  Beijing regards Uighur separatists as part of a terrorist organization with links to al Qaeda, and has sought to deligitimize them across the international community.

Report & Analysis: China blames extremists for Xinjian attack [Wall Street Journal, 1 Aug 2011]

Earlier this month, more than 20 people were killed in ethnic violence in Hotan, in what state media called a “terrorist attack.”

Following Saturday’s incident, Chinese forces detained more than 100 Uighurs for questioning.

Report & Analysis: 14 killed in western Chinese city on edge over ethnic tensions [New York Times, 31 Jul 2011]

Report & Analysis: Deadly violence hits China’s restive Xinjiang [Straits Times, 1 Aug 2011]

Elsewhere in China, late last week, residents rioted after state officials allegedly beat a disabled fruit vendor to death in Southern Guizhou province.

Residents gathered on the streets of Anshun, and threw stones at police and government vehicles. The people suspected the urban management officers, who are in charge of enforcing laws against begging and petty crimes, of killing the vendor.

According to Xinhua, about 30 protesters and 10 police officers were injured., and police used water cannons to disperse the protestors.

This is not the first time unrest has hit Guizhous; in late 2008, crowds rioted and stormed police headquarters in another city in the province following the allegations that police covered up the rape and murder of a young girl to protect the son of a local officials.

Report & Analysis: Riot in south China after death of fruit vendor [Reuters, 27 Jul 2011]

Across South-east Asia, clashes between supporters of rival political candidates broke out in Indonesia’s Papua region over the weekend.

Several people were injured in a brawl Sunday in the regions Puncak district, as angry mobs set fire to buildings and vehicles after the local election commission refused to register a candidate running for local district chief.

Report: Clashes in Indonesia’s Papua kill 17 [Voice of America, 31 Jul 2011]

At the same time, an Indonesian court handed down a verdict against Dani bin Misra, a member of a mob of 1,000 Sunni Muslims who hacked and beat to death three members of a minority Ahmadi Islamic group last February. Bin Misra was sentenced to just three months in prison, and none amongst the 11 others on trial received more than six months for their actions.

The verdict was widely condemned by human rights groups, the American government, the EU and Indonesian non-government organizations. Many are worried that the verdict will be a step back from full religious freedom, and may inspire others to attack minority groups such as the Ahmadiyah.

Report & Analysis: Lightly on the lynch mob [Economist, 31 Jul 2011]

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