By: Jessica Ties
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BEIJING, China –A confrontation between Chinese authorities and a group of Uighurs fleeing China resulted in at least seven deaths and the detention of children as young as seven years old.
According to the chief of one of the Mukula village hamlets, Memet Eziz Hapiz, two of those killed and at least two of those detained were from his hamlet.
Hapiz states that “[a]ll of them were firm in their beliefs. That is why they were unhappy and unsatisfied with the country’s religious policy.”
Minever Ehmet, Mukula village chief, told Radio Free Asia that two of the seven individuals killed were women and “their bodies are being held by the county Public Security Bureau.”
Minever Ehmet also stated that “the four captives are children aged seven to seventeen years of age. One child is an elementary school student in second grade. They are being interrogated by the county.”
When asked about the condition of the seven year old child, the village chief responded that he was “still alive” giving the impression that the child may have been seriously injured in the clash.
According to accounts by government authorities, the police attempted to block the “traitors”, who they accused of being terrorists, from crossing the border into an “enemy” country and opened fire when the Uighurs resisted arrest.
Although the police were civil, an argument eventually ensued and resulted in the stabbing of a police officer who grabbed the wife of one of the individuals.
Despite the official account, doubts have been raised about the legitimacy of official statements regarding events in Xinjiang.
For example, in 2008 officials claimed that two Uighur men were responsible for killing sixteen paramilitary officers by using machetes, explosives and trucks. Witnesses, however, claimed that it appeared that government actors had been the aggressors.
The Uighurs, which are the Turkish speaking and Muslim population in China, have often been accused of being the source of terrorism due to their resentment of Chinese rule and the control the government exercises over their religion and culture.
For more information, please see:
China Daily – Seven Kidnappers Killed, Police Officer Dies – 30 December 2011
New York Times – Reports Describe Deadly Clash in Restive China Region – 30 December 2011
Radio Free Asia – Women Killed, Children Captured in Standoff – 30 December 2011