COMBATING TERRORISM IN XINJIANG
Chinese courts, which are controlled by the ruling Communist Party, have a near-perfect conviction rate and frequently impose death sentences for terror offences. More than 75 percent of trials for suspects accused of terrorism-related and secessionist-related crimes take place in Xinjiang. According to chief justice Zhou Qiang, Chinese courts convicted 712 people for instigating secessionist activities or participating in violent terrorist attacks in 2014, representing a year-on-year increase of 13.3 percent, the China Daily reported. China arrested more than 1,000 people for “endangering state security”—a charge commonly brought against ethnic minorities—in 2012, up nearly 20 percent from the previous year, the US-based Dui Hua Foundation said According to The Guardian. [Source: Jonathan Kaiman, The Guardian, November 25, 2013, China Daily, March 24, 2015]
Christopher Bodeen of Associated Press wrote: “Beijing rules Xinjiang with an iron fist and has ignored Uyghur demands and even calls from within the Chinese political system to reconsider some of its most restrictive policies. This position was reinforced by President Xi Jinping's visit to region in 2014 when he visited a paramilitary unit, observed a military exercise and vowed that the government would "make terrorists become like rats scurrying across a street, with everybody shouting 'Beat them!'" The other aspect of Beijing's policy has been to pour resources into the area to promote rapid economic growth that it hopes will placate Uyghur critics and tie the region ever closer to the rest of China. [Source: Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press, May 22, 2014]
Xinjiang's Communist Party chief Zhang Chunxian has urged officials to "brandish the sword and advance against terrorists in a full-on approach...It's a historic battle." But Uyghur exile groups say it exactly that kind of approach—cultural oppression and intrusive security measures imposed by the Chinese government—that is the main causes of tension in Xinjiang, along with immigration that has resulted in millions of Han Chinese moving to Xinjiang and decades of discrimination and economic inequality. Uyghur organisations also dismiss claims of terrorism and separatism as an excuse by Beijing to justify religious and security restrictions. [Source: AFP, November 2, 2013]
Anti-Terrorism Measures Taken in Xinjiang
Police in Xinjiang have conducted crackdowns on weapons as and offered rewards for information on “terrorist” threats. China’s state media have ratcheted up rhetoric, blaming the violence on “terrorism, extremism and separatism” After a wave of unrest in the first half of 2013, Gillian Wong of Associated Press wrote: “China has responded with a massive show of force. State media have shown fleets of armored anti-riot vehicles and trucks loaded with paramilitary police rolling along main streets. Hundreds or thousands of gun-toting, helmeted troops were shown assembled on a public square in Urumqi being sworn-in before they were deployed for patrols. Authorities have blamed the unrest on "terrorism, extremism and separatism," ordered the confiscation of long knives, guns and other weapons and offered rewards for tips on suspected terrorist activity. In what was described as counter-terror efforts, police also publicized a list of names and pictures of 11 Uyghur men it described as suspects wanted for murder and other attacks dating back to 2011.
“Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying dismissed skepticism about the government's crackdown in the region both in 2009 and in recent weeks, describing the violence as being so severe it "makes people's hair stand on end." "If one not only refuses to condemn or fight the atrocities, but actually takes a skeptical attitude toward the legal crackdown by the local government and the Chinese government, then all I can say is that such accusations can be explained by nothing but a double standard and a seriously biased view against China," Hua said. [Source: Gillian Wong, Associated Press, July 5, 2013]
In October 2013, China has arrested 139 people in Xinjiang for allegedly spreading militancy, state-run media said. AFP reported: Another 256 people had been “punished” for spreading online rumours, the Global Times said citing local authorities. Police in Xinjiang have “handled an increasing number of cases in which individuals have posted or searched for religious extremist content on the Internet”, the China Daily said, citing an unnamed source in the Xinjiang Daily. In the two months to the end of August, 139 people were arrested for “spreading religious extremism”, it said. [Source: AFP, October 9, 2013]
“Also citing the Xinjiang Daily, the Global Times said a farmer in Hotan was detained after he uploaded 2GB of e-books about secessionism which were read 30,000 times. “Overseas hostile forces have never stopped infiltrating and inciting residents to take up extreme religious ideas through the Internet and the online spreading has become a great threat to ethnic unity and social stability,” the Global Times said, citing police. Dilshat Rexit, a spokesman for the overseas-based World Uyghur Congress, which Beijing calls a separatist group, said the claims were a “total distortion of the truth” aimed at blocking Uyghurs from going online. Those detained had “expressed discontent with Chinese rule and systematic repression in the area”, he said. China’s goal “is to suppress Uyghurs’ use of the Internet to obtain information and express different points of view”, he added.
After attacks in 2014, China introduced a host of tighter security measures nationwide. The Los Angeles Times reported: “Cops who previously patrolled without guns have been given firearms. Airport security screeners in Xinjiang now wave their wands even under the soles of passengers' bare feet. New heavy traffic dividers have been installed in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Checkpoints are common in southern Xinjiang, and in some areas of the province, the Internet and text-messaging services have been disabled. An expatriate who recently tried to buy a knife at two supermarkets in Beijing was told by clerks that they no longer stocked them. Eventually, the foreigner found a small selection at a specialty kitchen shop, though concealed behind the counter. [Source: Associated Press, October 8, 2013; Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2014]
Simon Denyer wrote in the Washington Post: “Some 200,000 Communist Party cadres have been dispatched to the countryside, ostensibly to listen to people’s concerns. Yet those officials, who often shelter behind compound walls fortified with alarms and barbed wire, appear to be more interested in ever-more intrusive surveillance of Uyghur life, locals say... The nets appear to be also catching many innocent people, residents complain. “You should arrest the bad guys,” said one Uyghur professional in Urumqi, “not just anyone who looks suspicious.” [Source: Simon Denyer, Washington Post, September 19, 2014 ==]
Arrests, Executions and Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang
Xinjiang-based officials, PAP and police units have had a track record of faulty intelligence and bungled operations.
By some estimates 1,000 people have been killed and 10,000 have arrested in crackdowns on suspected separatists and terrorists. According to exiled separatists in Kazakstan, 57,000 suspected pro-independence supporters, including academics and clerics, were arrest in 1996.
Accused terrorists are often executed. In 1997, 16 people were executed in Xinjiang for Muslim unrest. An additional 20 people wee executed in 1996 for the rolls in Yining riots and Urumqi bombings. According to Amnesty International, Xinjiang is only place where executions are carried out for political crimes. One Amnesty International listed 210 death sentences and 190 executions between 1997 and 2000. Most were Uighurs
The Chinese have arrested thousands of Uighurs and confiscated weapons and explosives. Xinjiang police claimed in 1996 that they arrested 2,773 suspected terrorists and seized 6,000 pounds of explosives and confiscated 31,000 rounds of ammunition.
In June 2005, 10 Uighur activists were arrested and charged with plotting independence and separatism
In January 2007, security forces raided an alleged terrorist “training camp” in Akto in a mountainous area of Xinjiang Province near the Pakistan border, claiming that 18 militants were killed and 17 were arrested. Police said they found a cache of grenades, guns and handmade explosives, evidence of ties with international terrorists, and said the camp was run by ETIM. Human rights groups have doubts about the claims.
Beijing’s crackdown it seems have largely been successful. The bombings, protests and unrest that occurred in the 1990s now seem like events in the distant past. But some say resentment has only been driven underground. Dru Gladney, an expert of western China at Pomona Collage, told the Los Angeles Times, “They put out the fire. But the embers are smoldering. And unless they address hearts and minds, it will flare again.” One Uighur man in Khotan told Reuters, “Even for small things you hear about people being taken away. So any kind of bigger incident I don’t think could happen here.”
In November 2007, six Uighurs tied to Hizb ut-Tahrir were given prison sentences from death to life in prison on charges of ‘splittism and organizing and leading terrorist groups.” One of the men that was found guilty of “carrying out extremist religious activities and promoting “jihad,” was accused of establishing a terrorist training base and preparing to set up an Islamic caliphate
Uighurs Sentenced to Death in Kashgar Attack
The Washington Post reported that after the attacks before the Olympics in 2008 the local government inYengishahar county in Xinjiang bused several thousand students and office workers into a public square and lined them up in front of a vocational school to watch the execution of three prisoners, who been convicted on terrorist charges in connections with a plot by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement to disrupt the Olympics.
In December 2008, a Xinjiang court sentenced two men to death for the Kashgar attack in August that killed 17 paramilitary officers. The Intermediate People’s Court of Kashgar sentenced the men, a taxi driver and a vegetable vendor, for intentional homicide and illegally producing guns, ammunition and explosives, Xinhua reported. The court determined that the men, were trying to sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, December, 17 2008]
The Xinhua report of the trial did not give any details on what kind of evidence was reviewed by the court in Kashgar during the trial of the two men. It also did not mention the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. The day after the assault, the party secretary of Kashgar, Shi Dagang, told reporters that it appeared that the two men were members of that group.
Disappeared Uyghurs and Burned Uyghur Students
Some Uyghurs have been detained by police and never heard from again. According to by Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, 34 people disappeared in the crackdown that followed the 2009 riots. Associated Press reported: “On his website, Tohti posted a letter addressed to China's rubber-stamp legislature, the National People's Congress, and China's Cabinet, the State Council, in which he compiled a list of people who remain missing after authorities launched an expansive crackdown in response to the 2009 riots. They include 32 Uyghurs and two people of the Kazakh ethnic group. He said the authorities' persistent lack of accountability over the crackdown has fueled hatred toward the government. [Source: Gillian Wong, Associated Press, July 5, 2013]
Philip Wen and Sanghee Liu wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald, “For Tursungul Turdi, the deepest hurt is in not knowing. Her son, Eysajan Memet, has been missing since being detained in the Urumqi riots in 2009. Despite repeated pleas for information, authorities have told her nothing - not where he is, what he has done, or even whether he is still alive. "If he really did something bad, fine, they can kill him," Tursungul, 72, says in her bare-walled house in a Uyghur quarter of Kashgar. "But if he did nothing, why is he still detained? Why don't they just tell the truth?" Eysajan, a 25-year-old cook and musician when he disappeared, is one of at least 40 ethnic Uyghurs unaccounted for after the 2009 riots. Family members are instructed to stop looking for their missing loved ones; those that don't comply are monitored, harassed and threatened. [Source: Philip Wen, Sanghee Liu, Sydney Morning Herald, March 1, 2014]
In June 2012, staff at a religious school in Hotan city in Xinjiang set off explosives to fend off a police raid and 12 children were burned, state media reported. Associated Press reported: “The Tianshan news portal for the Xinjiang region said the 12 were hospitalized but didn't say how badly they were hurt. Three police and two of the three staff at the school in Hotan city were also injured, it said. The Tianshan report said 54 kids were at the school when police raided it. Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the German-based World Uyghur Congress, said the school was teaching the Quran and that paramilitary officers used tear gas on the children. [Source: Associated Press, June 6, 2012]
Military Presence in Urumqi and Kashgar
In June 2013, after attacks and rioting killed about 70 people in the Turpan and Hotan areas, China staged a large military exercise in Xinjiang. AFP reported: “Tanks, military vehicles, and armed personnel blocked access to streets in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi, where at least 1,000 personnel carried out the exercise, with large sections of the city's centre shut down. "Isn't it obvious? It is being staged because of the latest terrorism attacks," one local woman said of the exercise, which locals said was highly unusual in that scale.The drill came ahead of the fourth anniversary on July 5 of riots in Urumqi that left around 200 dead. [Source: AFP, June 30, 2013]
Saturday's exercise — which began this afternoon and was expected to last around five hours — was carried out by members of the People's Armed Police, part of China's armed forces responsible for law enforcement and internal security during peacetime. China's state-run media blamed over 100 people it branded "terrorists" for sparking "riots" in Xinjiang the previous day. The unrest took place in the prefecture of Hotan, where a group "(attacked) a number of people with weapons after gathering at local religious venues", the state-run Global Times said. Radio Free Asia quoted a source as saying police in Hotan opened fire on Uyghurs as they left a local mosque. "Young Uyghurs on motorcycles were leaving the mosque, they were shouting religious slogans...The police were frightened and started shooting at them ... At least two died and one was injured," the report said. A state-run news website, Tianshan Web, said that no members of the public had been killed or injured, without stating whether police or government staff had died.
China's President Xi Jinping said, following the attacks, that "(the incidents) must be handled quickly to guarantee the general stability of the society", Tianshan Web reported. Asenior ruling Communist Party official has called for "24-hour patrol" by armed police in the restive region. The Uyghur American Association, run by exiled members of the minority, said a "blackout of news" on attacks in the region cast doubt on Chinese government claims. "The state then uses its propaganda apparatus to label the incident 'terrorism' without presenting any evidence that can be independently proved," the group said. The recent unrest occurred ahead of celebrations for the Muslim Ramadan festival — which Uyghurs have said are repressed by local authorities.
AFP reporters saw members of China's armed paramilitary police transported near Lukqun, the town affected by riots. Residents contacted by AFP by telephone said police, some armed, were lining streets and intersections in the town following the attack. Another local resident told AFP he could not send text messages to the area. Locals in Urumqi said the city was divided into Uyghur and Han districts, and one taxi driver, who did not give his name, said that Han residents were avoiding Uyghur dominated areas in the run up to the anniversary.
A few days later, Chinese paramilitary troops began round-the-clock patrols. Associated Press reported: “The order for the patrols by the People’s Armed Police was issued by the ruling Communist Party’s top law enforcement official, Meng Jianzhu, at an emergency meeting in Urumqi. The action came just days ahead of the July 5 anniversary of a 2009 riot. Troops must patrol in all weather conditions, “raise their visibility, maintain a deterrent threat and strengthen the public’s sense of security,” Meng said, according to a notice posted to the Public Security Ministry’s website. [Source: Associated Press, July 2, 2013]
Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times, Chinese security officials consider Kashgar to be “a breeding ground for a small but resilient movement of Uighur separatists who Beijing claims have ties to international jihadis.” After the riots in Urumqi in 2009 the security presence was stepped up in Kashgar. Military trucks rumble through the streets every couple of hours emblazoned with slogans like: “The happiness of the Kashgar people is our heart’s wish.” Some hotels are no longer allowed to have foreign guests.
Anti-Terrorist Measures After the Attacks in Early 2014
William Wan wrote in the Washington Post, ““Recent attacks have led to heightened vigilance throughout Xinjiang. Kashgar, for example, has been described in recent days by local media as a city on lockdown. According to the Xinjiang Daily News, Communist Party members and local companies, schools and community groups have been recruited to act as 24-hour “security watchers,” backing up round-the-clock police surveillance. In southern Xinjiang’s Aksu prefecture, where most residents are Uyghur, Chinese authorities are trying monetary rewards to persuade residents to inform on each other. A notice posted on the official Web site of Aksu’s Shayar County listed at least 36 types of useful information and offered rewards of between $8 and $8,000. According to a screen shot provided by the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, authorities offered rewards for informing on activities such as prayer in public places; disputes between members of ethnic minorities and Han Chinese; and people with bizarre dress or long beards, as well as foreigners. Aksu is one of Xinjiang’s most heavily guarded areas and has seen many clashes in the past.” [Source: William Wan, Washington Post, May 10, 2014 ^|^]
Anti-terrorism measures were taken nationwide. Armed police, helicopters and military units were deployed in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Reuters reported: “The government strengthened police patrols and restricted bulk purchases of gasoline in Beijing, where a car burst into flames on the edge of the Tiananmen Square in October. China has sent weapons specialists to Xinjiang to give firearms training to police, according to the People's Daily.The officers were sent to Xinjiang to "improve the anti-terrorism and emergency management ability of front-line police officers, and resolutely strike against violent terrorists who are swollen with arrogance", it said. Police in the south-western city of Guiyang have recently been equipped with guns and ordered to patrol the city 24 hours a day, Xinhua reported. [Source: Reuters, May 14, 2014]
Tom Phillips and Malcolm Moore wrote in The Telegraph, “Beijing has imposed some of the heaviest security it has ever seen. SWAT teams, some of which have been posted to guard subway stations, were told to shoot on sight, without warning or confirming identification. Squads of armed policemen in combat uniforms have also been posted at major road intersections. Five police helicopters have patrolled over the city since the weekend, hovering over major attractions and the city's train stations. Extra security at subway stations has also caused commuter chaos, with long snaking lines as passengers wait to be frisked. Heavily armed security forces have also appeared on Shanghai's streets and underground. [Source: Tom Phillips and Malcolm Moore, The Telegraph, May 27, 2014]
“The rhetoric accompanying the anti-terror drive suggests Beijing's response to the upsurge in violence will be unflinching. The "ultra-tough" campaign "is expected to shake off some unnecessary constraints", the state-run Global Times said on Monday without expanding on what that meant. Zhang Chunxian, Xinjiang's Communist Party chief, declared a "people's war" on "malignant violence" and warned that the confrontation with terrorists would be "very intense". "Strengthened management of religious affairs" would be required, Mr Zhang was quoted as saying.
In September 2014, AFP reported: “China’s supreme court distributed new wide-ranging guidelines on prosecuting terrorism cases. “Making and showing banners and other material of religious extremism will be criminalised,” the state-run Xinhua news agency said in a summary of the regulations. The court also said that the use of insults such as “religious traitor” and “heretic” could lead to criminal conviction. [Source: AFP, September 26, 2014]
Mass Sentencing in Xinjiang Stadium
In May 2014, state media reported a mass sentencing in front of a crowd of 7,000 at a sports stadium in Yining city in Xinjiang's northern prefecture of Yili, near the Kazakhstan border. Louise Watt of Associated Press wrote: “Footage broadcast Thursday on local broadcaster Yili Television showed defendants dressed in orange vests worn by Chinese jail prisoners standing on about a dozen trucks, parked in two rows on the stadium's grass and running track. Defendants were made to bow their heads by police standing on the trucks as an official read out verdicts, according to the footage carried by the video site of the Sina Internet portal. Lines of officials sat in the stands with name cards in front of them. Others in the stands included police, armed soldiers and many locals, with some women dressed up for the occasion. The Xinhua report gave few details about the cases, but defendants whose names were reported all appeared to be Uyghurs, members of the region's biggest Muslim ethnic minority group.” [Source: Louise Watt, Associated Press, May 29 2014]
Tom Phillips wrote in The Telegraph, “Thousands had packed the stands at the home of Yining FC but there was to be no football that morning. Instead, as the sun rose high above the stadium and locals huddled under pink and purple umbrellas, a convoy of open-backed trucks rolled on to the Astroturf pitch and delivered an unusual cargo: 55 handcuffed prisoners flanked by rifle-toting guards. From a platform high above, Communist Party leaders delivered the verdicts they hoped would send a clear message to the “rampant and unruly” criminals they had come to condemn. [Source: Tom Phillips, The Telegraph, July 20, 2014 /=]
“All were declared guilty of charges related to separatism and terrorism. Three were sentenced to death for using knives and axes to slaughter the wife and two young daughters of a computer recycler rumoured to have discovered extremist material on a discarded hard drive. “It was a grand scene,” recalled one witness to the Cultural Revolution-style public “trial”, a 50-year-old builder who, like many The Telegraph spoke to in this remote and unsettled city on China’s border with Kazakhstan, declined to be named. “More than 7,000 people came to see.” /=\
“Communist Party-run newspapers have printed few details about the 55 prisoners publicly sentenced at Yining’s football stadium rally. The Telegraph has learnt that one case relates to the murder of a family of Han Chinese migrant workers from Henan province in central China. Liu Aihua and Tang Jinmei, his wife, were hacked to death at their home in April 2013 along with their two daughters, aged 14 and three. Flour had been scattered on the floor in order to cover footprints left in their blood, according to one neighbour. One rumour, which police would neither confirm nor deny, suggests they were killed after Mr Liu, a computer recycler, found extremist material on a neighbour’s hard-drive and reported it to authorities. China has expressed growing concern about the spread of Uyghur-language online radical material and has also been offering cash rewards to Xinjiang residents who inform on suspected terrorists. “They were nice, friendly people. They didn’t seem like people with enemies,” said Zhang Haijun, the 51-year-old neighbour who discovered their bodies. “So I think it had to be terrorists, killing them for no reason.” Police have released few details of the massacre. The motives of those found guilty, like those behind the recent attacks on Chinese cities, remain obscure.” /=\
Yining: A Frontline in Xinjiang’s “People’s War” on Terrorism
Tom Phillips wrote in The Telegraph: “Headline-grabbing attacks have led Beijing to declare the “people’s war” on terrorism” and “nowhere has felt the impact more intensely than the remote villages, towns and cities of Xinjiang; places such as Yining, a border city of about 600,000 inhabitants, nearly half of whom are Muslim Uyghurs. Yining, which Uyghurs call Ghulja, is one of the key fronts in the “people’s war”. The security presence has been growing here since 2009, when ethnic riots in Urumqi claimed almost 200 lives, but residents say they have been shocked at the scale of the recent deployment. [Source: Tom Phillips, The Telegraph, July 20, 2014 /=]
“Black-clad agents with 4-foot bayonets and flak jackets guard the airport and sandbags block part of the road into town. Armed troops have flooded the city centre, mounting roadblocks and metal barricades at all major intersections, and petrol stations have been sealed off with red and white metal blockades. Bag checks are now compulsory at restaurants, shops have been ordered to close early and cars are not allowed within 650 feet of schools. Yining’s civilian population has also been recruited to the “people’s war”, with thousands joining a volunteer army of “red guards” given the task of searching cars and snitching on suspect locals. /=\
“The government called on locals to join the anti-terror campaign and we actively answered that call,” said Du Jun, a 33-year-old taxi driver, proudly displaying a bright red armband emblazoned with the words “security personnel”. “We are not the only red guards; they also include employees in shops, supermarkets, restaurants, everywhere. It is a people’s war against terror,” added Mr Du, a migrant from south-west China. /=\
“In Yining, that response has taken the form of weeks of government-sponsored anti-terrorism events, including “indignation sessions”, “denunciation meetings” and two public sentencing rallies at the football stadium. “The terrorists are madly ferocious and inhumane,” Huang Sanping, the regional Communist Party boss, told one such summit. “We must adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards them, landing heavy and merciless blows with an iron first, cracking down on their terror activities with a thunderous posture and extinguishing their arrogant menace.” Another official warned that the city faced a “life or death” struggle against extremism. /=\
“Schools have introduced “anti-evil religion” classes for tens of thousands of students and staged song and dance contests featuring routines entitled Hello, Motherland!, Sing out loud about ethnic unity! and Who says our homeland isn’t great? Armed troops and a white armoured personnel carrier have occupied the entrance to Kazanqi — a traditional Uyghur neighbourhood. Surveillance vehicles fitted with rooftop cameras perform constant sweeps of the community’s main street. “It all started this year, after the attack in May,” said one Uyghur shop owner, whose store was completely devoid of customers. Yining’s journalists have also joined the government’s campaign, with editors publicly pledging to engage in anti-terrorist “opinion guidance” and using their pages to build “iron walls of social stability”. /=\ “All over the city, colourful propaganda billboards feature pictures of smiling and dancing ethnic minorities alongside slogans such as “Protect Ethnic Unity: Build a harmonious Yining”. But the strain on relations between Uyghurs and Han Chinese is evident. “The atmosphere is tense,” said Ma Weilong, a 22-year-old shopkeeper on Bordeaux Shopping Street, a new suburban housing estate. “People are on edge.” Mr Ma, who is Han Chinese, said he had “many ethnic friends” and did not fear violence in his neighbourhood. He said: “People outside Xinjiang are afraid of Uyghur people and we distance ourselves a bit from them in Yining, unless we know them well.” Members of the Uyghur community said they feared further ostracism, and distanced themselves from the recent attacks. “They [the terrorists] think differently to us. Perhaps they are the same as those people in Iraq,” said one woman. /=\
“Each night a convoy of pitch-black special force vehicles parades past Yining’s Bayatulla mosque, slowing as it passes its ornate 18th century gate. “Too many police,” whispered one Uyghur, who was preparing to break his Ramadan fast on a nearby corner. “Too many police.” As yet another police vehicle rounded the corner, the man’s face creased into a scowl and his friends shook their heads in disapproval. Then, a police officer came within earshot and the frowns melted into smiles.” /=\
Millions in Rewards in Xinjiang Terrorist 'Hunt'
In Xinjiang, police have offered money for tips on everything from "violent terrorism training" to growing long beards. In August 2014, it was revealed that China was offering more than 300 million yuan ($49 million) to Xinjiang residents who helped crackdown on "terrorists", state media reported. According to AFP: “A total of 4.23 million yuan was handed out to individuals and government agencies who helped in the killing and capture of 10 "suspected terrorists" in Hotan prefecture, Xinhua said. Local residents found the suspects in a corn field in Purgakqi last Friday, it said. With the help of more than 30,000 "volunteers", police shot dead nine of the suspects and captured one after chasing the group to an abandoned house, where they "resisted arrest by throwing explosives into the crowd", according to Xinhua. [Source: AFP, August 4, 2014]
An award ceremony attended by more than 10,000 people was held in Hotan. Six individuals who provided key tip-offs were given 100,000 yuan each, said the report. "Party members... cadres and the public of different ethnicities were called on at the gathering to be inspired (to)... build an iron bastion against violent terrorist crimes," Xinhua said. The money was part of more than 300 million yuan in cash rewards Xinjiang authorities have decided to hand out to "those who helped hunt suspected terrorists", Xinhua added.
Numerous regions and provinces around China have offered money for tip-offs in recent months. A few weeks earlier, police in southern Guangdong province said they were offering up to $80,000 for tips about terrorism suspects and potential attacks, state media said. Under the Guangdong plan, informants' rewards will be based on the "value of the information in preventing terrorist attacks or catching suspects", the official Xinhua news agency said. "Police will also offer rewards to those who provide tips on illegal activities related to preaching extremism and making videos or books that teach terrorist attacks," Xinhua said. The Public Security Ministry said police who failed to protect informants and keep their identities confidential would face punishment. [Source: Reuters, July 13, 2014]
13 Attackers Killed and 13 Terrorists Executed in Xinjiang
In June 2014, Chinese police shot dead 13 attackers in Yecheng County in southern Xinjiang after they rammed a car into a police station and detonated explosives, Xinhua said. "The gangsters drove a truck to ram the building of the public security bureau of Yecheng County in southern Xinjiang and set off explosives. Police shot and killed 13 attackers at the scene," Xinhua said, adding that three police were slightly wounded. In 2012, seven attackers were shot dead after killing 13 people in a knife attack in Yecheng, also known by its Uyghur name of Kargilik, a remote town on the road leading to China's mountainous border with Pakistan. [Source: Adam Jourdan, Reuters, June 21, 2014]
In June 2014, China executed 13 people for "terrorist attacks" in Xinjiang. Xinhua said the 13 were involved in seven attacks connected to Xinjiang. "In one case, three defendants were convicted of organising and leading terrorists to attack police station, hotel, government office building and other venues, killing 24 police officers and civilians and injuring 23 others," Xinhua said. The incident reportedly took place in Shanshan County of Turpan province in June 2013. [Source: Al Jazeera, June 16, 2014]
According to Al Jazeera: “Xinhua did not identify the executed by name, but said "all the death penalties have been approved by the Supreme People's Court, as required in China". It was not clear if those who were executed were part of the group of Uyghurs who were sentenced in a mass trial last May and early June. "All of these sentencing come in the context of a wider crackdown of the Uyghurs," Greg Fay, of the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told Al Jazeera. "With so little information being put out, we are concerned that there is a lack of due process in their trials."
Crackdown on Terrorism Becomes War on Islam in Xinjiang
Reporting from Shache County in southern Xinjiang, Simon Denyer wrote in the Washington Post, “The month of Ramadan should have been a time of fasting, charity and prayer in China’s Muslim west. But here, in many of the towns and villages of southern Xinjiang, it was a time of fear, repression, and violence. Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uyghurs: women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say. Students and civil servants were forced to eat instead of fasting, and work or attend classes instead of attending Friday prayers.[Source: Simon Denyer, Washington Post, September 19, 2014 ==]
“The religious repression has bred resentment, and, at times, deadly protests. Reports have emerged of police firing on angry crowds in recent weeks in the towns of Elishku, and Alaqagha; since then, Chinese authorities have imposed a complete blackout on reporting from both locations, even more intense than that already in place across most of Xinjiang. A Washington Post team was turned away at the one of several checkpoints around Elishku, as army trucks rumbled past, and was subsequently detained for several hours by informers, police and Communist Party officials for reporting from villages in the surrounding district of Shache county; the following day, the team was again detained in Alaqagha in Kuqa county, and ultimately deported from the region from the nearest airport. ==
“Across Shache county, the Internet has been cut, and text messaging services disabled, while foreigners have been barred. But in snatched conversations, in person and on the telephone, with the few people in the region brave enough to talk, a picture of constant harassment across Xinjiang emerges. “The police are everywhere,” said one Uyghur resident. Another said it was like “living in prison.” Another said his identity card had been checked so many times, “the magnetic strip is not working any more.” The region has been in lockdown since attacls in July 2014 with police and SWAT teams arresting more than 200 people and drones scanning for suspects from the air.” ==
“In Shache, known in Uyghur as Yarkand, an official document boasts of spending more than $2 million to establish a network of informers and surveillance cameras. House-to-house inspections, it says, will identify separatists, terrorists and religious extremists – including women who cover their faces with veils or burqas, and young men with long beards. In the city of Kashgar, checkpoints enforce what the authorities call “Project Beauty” — beauty, in this case, being an exposed face. A large billboard close to the main mosque carries pictures of women wearing headscarves that pass muster, and those — covering the face or even just the neck — which are banned. Anyone caught breaking the rules faces the daunting prospect of “regular and irregular inspections,” “educational lectures” and having party cadres assigned as “buddies” to prevent backsliding, the billboard announced. In the city of Karamay, women wearing veils and men with long beards have been banned from public buses.” ==
Problems with Beijing’s Crackdown on Terror
Nisid Hajari of Bloomberg wrote: Launching a brute "crackdown on terrorism," as President Xi Jinping has called for, won't solve any of those problems and will probably only increase the appeal of groups like the TIP. The Kunming attack showed a disturbing degree of sophistication and a new willingness to spread violence outside of Xinjiang itself. It would have taken weeks, if not months, to prepare. As the U.S. has discovered in dealing with its own - admittedly quite different - domestic terrorism problem since Sept. 11, targeted intelligence and close, established relationships between law enforcement and local populations are the most effective means of thwarting such plots. [Source: Nisid Hajari, Bloomberg View editorial board, March 5, 2014]
Henryk Szadziewski, from the US-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told The Telegraph he recognised that Beijing had “legitimate security concerns” but said he feared Uyghurs’ civil rights were being further eroded by the crackdown. Peaceful dissenters were also being targeted. “The strong emphasis on security doesn’t augur well for the future,” he said. “The way forward looks particularly grim.” [Source: Tom Phillips, The Telegraph, July 20, 2014 /=]
Text Sources: 1) "Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Russia and Eurasia/ China", edited by Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond (C.K.Hall & Company, 1994); 2) Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, kepu.net.cn ~; 3) Ethnic China ethnic-china.com *\; 4) Chinatravel.com\=/; 5) China.org, the Chinese government news site china.org | New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Chinese government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated July 2015