RFA: 10th Anniversary of Urumqi Unrest Brings Protests Over Internment Camps, Accountability Demands

Uyghur exile groups and supporters staged protests calling for an end to China’s harsh crackdown in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on Friday, the 10th anniversary of deadly ethnic riots that led to today’s blanket surveillance and mass internment of Uyghurs and other Muslims.

In Washington, Uyghur groups marched for several hours near the White House, while U.S. lawmakers called on the Trump administration to take concrete steps to hold Chinese officials accountable for the detention of up to 1.5 million Uyghur and other ethnic Muslims in internment camps since April 2017.

In Turkey, home to thousands of Uyghur exiles, Uyghurs and local supporters staged street protests calling for an end to the internment camps.

In Kuala Lumpur, the Muslim Youth Group Malaysia issued a letter to the Chinese embassy but were prevented from delivering it.

“As the world commemorates the 10th anniversary of the July 5th 2009 Urumqi Massacre, we wish to highlight the critical situation of human rights abuses of the Uyghur people and many other minority groups across the Xinjiang area,” read the letter.

“We note that the human rights violations of the Uyghur people and their respective communities have increased significantly resulting in the rapid deterioration of the welfare and wellbeing of the Uyghur people,” it said.

Some 200 people died and 1,700 were injured in the three-day rampage of violence that began on July 5, 2009 in Urumqi between ethnic minority Uyghurs and Han Chinese, according to China’s official figures, although Uyghur rights groups say the numbers are much higher.

“The violent suppression 10 years ago on July 5 of a protest march in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in western China, was a pivotal moment in the struggle of the Uighur people to defend their rights,” Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post on July 4.

‘Righteousness will prevail’

“The Chinese government cannot erase Uyghurs from the face of the earth with genocide like the massacre of July 5, with torture in the concentration camps, even with the systematic campaigns designed to exterminate Uyghurs,” Dolkun Isa, president of the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, told RFA’s Uyghur Service

“Uyghurs are on the right side of the history and righteousness will prevail,” he added.

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