For Immediate Release
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China: Fair and Impartial Investigation Must be Launched in Urumqi
LONDON - Amnesty International today called on
the authorities in Urumqi to immediately launch an independent and
impartial investigation into reports that 140 people were killed when a
protest turned violent late on Sunday.
"The Chinese authorities must fully account for all those who died
and have been detained. Those who were detained solely for peacefully
expressing their views and exercising their freedom of expression,
association and assembly must be released immediately. A fair and
thorough investigation must be launched resulting in fair trials that
are in accordance with international standards without recourse to the
death penalty”, said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s Deputy
Director Asia-Pacific. “There has been a tragic loss of life and it is
essential that an urgent independent investigation takes place to bring
all those responsible for the deaths to justice”, said Roseann Rife.
“Violence and abuses from either the authorities or protestors is in no
Amnesty International urged the authorities to respect their
obligations under domestic and international law which protect peaceful
freedom of expression and assembly, prohibit arbitrary arrest and
torture or ill-treatment in custody.
The organization also called on the authorities to allow free access
for domestic and foreign journalists and independent observers to
report on the incident. Xinhua, an official state news agency, reported
that police in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region
(XUAR) and home to over 8 million Uighurs, have arrested several
hundred participants, including more than ten key figures that were
accused of instigating the unrest, and are still searching for
approximately 90 more.
The protests are reported to have begun with non-violent
demonstrations against government inaction after a violent riot at a
factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, resulted in two deaths. On 26
June, hundreds of Uighur workers clashed with thousands of Han Chinese
workers at a factory where Uighurs had been recruited from the XUAR.
Police have reportedly detained the man, a laid-off employee from
the same factory, who circulated rumours which provoked the deadly
clash. The official response to the violence in Guangdong was to impose
an information black-out on the incident, with websites and online
discussion boards instructed to delete posts related to the clash.
Beyond responding to the immediate outbreak of violence, authorities
need to address issues that have given rise to tensions. Since the
1980s, the Uighurs have been the target of systematic and extensive
human rights violations. These include arbitrary detention and
imprisonment, incommunicado detention, and serious restrictions on
religious freedom as well as cultural and social rights. Chinese
government policies, including those that limit use of the Uighur
language, severe restrictions on freedom of religion, and a sustained
influx of Han Chinese migrants into the region, are destroying customs
and, together with employment discrimination, fuelling discontent and
ethnic tensions. The Chinese government has mounted an aggressive
campaign that has led to the arrest and arbitrary detention of
thousands of Uighurs on charges of “terrorism, separatism and religious
extremism” for peacefully exercising their human rights.
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