Blogger Arrested in Beijing for Writing About Urumqi Riot

AFP reports that China has arrested a university professor in Beijing for writing about the Xinjiang riots on his website.  The AFP report quotes from Reporters Without Borders, which alerts that Professor Ilham Tohti, an economist at Minzu University of China and an ethnic Uighur, was arrested.  Professor Tohti has been repeatedly harassed by the Public Security Bureau in Beijing since March this year for posting articles on his blog exploring relations between ethnic Han Chinese and Uyghur in Xinjiang.  The PSB, however, refused to confirm Professor Tohti’s arrest for AFP reporters.

I am a regular reader of Professor Tohti’s website, which is now blocked from within China.  I find the website very helpful in understanding the lives of people in Xinjiang.  I find no evidence of the website inciting violence, as claimed by some Xinjiang authorities on CCTV.  I suspect Chinese authorities targeted the website because it provides an alternative perspective to ethnic issues, which from time to time, contradicts the Han-centric official line.



 Media coverage of situation in Urumqi is a bit confusing today:

  1. BBC describes it as “uneasy calm” in Urumqi;
  2. Aljazeera highlights fear on Urumqi street.  Both Han and Uighur residents are not confident that the Government’s approach is helpful in sorting out a long term solution;
  3. Bloomberg points out that China’s show of force brings uneasy truce to Urumqi after riots.

The best eyewitness report goes to ABC’s Tom Iggulden, who is reporting directly from Urumqi.  The report captures on video footages of Uighur people and foreign press being assaulted by Han Chinese.

The best blog post for today is published by Xiao Qiang at China Digital Times.  CDT has translated an astonishing entry from the, an American-based Chinese language online forum frequented by Chinese students studying abroad.  The entry contains an usually sober and objective assessment of the situation made by an ethnic Chinese with strong family ties in Urumqi.  I particularly appreciate the fact that this young person who posts under the name “ulmqman” is showing great concerns for the predicament of a forgotten group of people in Urumqi, the Kazakhs.  He wrote and I quote:

哈萨克人很郁闷,两头不挨,害怕被维族人杀,也怕被汉族人伤害。(Kazakhs are in a very difficult situation. They don’t belong to either side. They are afraid of being killed by Uighurs, and afraid of being killed by Hans.)

I agree with some commenters at that the conflicts between ethnic groups in Xinjiang cannot be resolved by force or by blaming a few so-called Uighur terrorists.  A coordinated plan from the Government is desperately needed to encourage dialogue among ethnic groups.  Unfortunately and regrettably, we cannot see signs of that happening any time soon.

This entry was posted in media censorship, regional security, Under the Tree and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Blogger Arrested in Beijing for Writing About Urumqi Riot

  1. 迷你倉 says:

    The normally bustling mosques of China’s Urumqi city were ordered shut on the main Muslim day of prayer today with police out in force to prevent new outbreaks of deadly ethnic unrest.

    Uighur Muslims said they had been directed to pray at home, as armed forces saturated the streets of the northwest Xinjiang region’s capital five days after clashes that authorities said left 156 people dead.

    “The government said there would be no Friday prayers,” said a Uighur man named Tursun outside the Hantagri mosque, one of the oldest in the capital, as about 100 policemen carrying machine guns and batons stood guard nearby.

    “There’s nothing we can do… the government is afraid that people will use religion to support the three forces.”

    The “three forces”‘ is a Chinese government term referring to extremism, separatism and terrorism, forces it says are trying to split the remote Xinjiang region from the rest of the country.

    Xinjiang’s eight million Uighurs have long complained about religious, political and economic repression under Chinese rule, and this deep-set anger spilled out on Sunday in protests that quickly turned violent.

    The Chinese government said 156 people were killed and more than 1,000 others were injured, as Uighur Muslims attacked people from China’s dominant Han ethnic group.

    But Uighur exiles have said security forces over-reacted to peaceful protests. They said up to 800 people may have died in the unrest.

    Many security forces remained in place today, and the traditional Muslim day of prayer passed with many Uighurs and other Muslims such as from the Hui ethnic group unable to attend mosques. “Go home to pray,” said handwritten notices on the front gates of five shuttered mosques visited yesterday.

    When asked if all mosques in Urumqi were closed today, a spokesman for the Xinjiang regional government said that “all religious activities should go on normally,” without elaborating.


  2. justrecently says:

    The curfew has been reimposed in Urumqi, reports the BBC.

  3. C.A Yeung says:

    Foreign journalists in Kashgar were first ushered away from a mosque and then asked to leave the city according to a AFP report.

  4. Pingback: Ivan is alive! « Under the Jacaranda Tree

  5. 迷你倉 says:

    Heavily armed security forces were out in force in Urumqi yesterday close to where police shot dead two Muslim Uygurs who state media said were calling for jihad.

    Large groups of police armed with semi-automatic weapons and batons were deployed close to the scene of yesterday’s violence, where authorities said police shot and killed two Uygur lawbreakers and wounded another.

    Meanwhile, an Algeria-based al-Qaeda affiliate was calling for reprisals against Chinese workers in northern Africa, according to an intelligence report by a London-based risk analysis firm.
    It is the first time Osama bin Laden’s network has directly threatened China or its interests, it noted.

    Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China would take all precautions to protect its overseas interests, while not commenting directly on the alleged al-Qaeda threat.


  6. Pingback: Australian Writers Condemn China’s Censorship Attempt « Under the Jacaranda Tree

Comments are closed.