ISNA Condemns Beijing’s Heavy-Handed Response to Uighurs’ Protests
(Plainfield, IN – July 10, 2009) The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is troubled by the deadly ethnic clashes between the Hans and Uighurs in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang province in China, and deeply concerned about the dire and deteriorating conditions of the Uighur minority.
We call on the Chinese government to respect the civic and religious rights of the Uighur minority and all ethnic and religious minorities, and to ensure that they are able to express their issues and grievances freely. We urge Chinese authorities to end their arbitrary arrest of Uighurs and release the more than 14,000 arrested since Sunday.
We further call on the Chinese government to pay close attention to the uneven development between Uighurs and Hans in Xinjiang, and to work toward correcting this situation. Such a change in policy is necessary not only to ensure the just treatment of the Uighur minority, but is also essential for promoting social harmony and peace.
Chinese police used violence to disperse Uighurs who took to the streets on July 5 to protest a brawl between Han Chinese and Uighurs in Guangdong last month. More than 156 people died in the ensuing clashes with police and with Han ethnics who mobilized to disrupt their peaceful protest.
The Chinese government should investigate this incident thoroughly and evenhandedly, and deal with the root causes of the current clashes, and address the grievances of the Uighurs who are treated as second class citizens in their own country. “The Chinese government needs to improve the conditions of the Uighur community and put an end to discriminatory practices against minorities,” ISNA President Ingrid Mattson stated.
The Uighurs are mostly Muslim with cultural and linguistic ties to Central Asia who have long suffered discrimination in their own homeland. The Uighurs have for decades accused the Beijing government of curtailing religious worship, stifling their culture, and denying them of the economic benefits of oil and natural gas produced in their province.