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Horrifying video shows murders that triggered Han-Uighur rioting in China leading to martial law

By Michael Richardson, Boston Progressive Examiner
July 10, 2009

Chinese paramilitary units take over downtown Urumqi                              

Ethnic rioting in Urumqi, Xinjiang has prompted a martial law crackdown by the Chinese government bringing thousands of security forces to the regional capitol. Early news reports, provided by the official Chinese news agency, suggested unrest by Muslim Uighars and mutual fighting between the dominant Han Chinese and minority Uighurs.

However, selective news reports and interruption of internet and mobile telephone service by the Chinese government have not been able to keep the full story from emerging from the western province as a campaign to blame the victims is underway.

A horrifying internet video of two Uighar men being savagely beaten to death before hundreds of witnesses provides the genesis of the "unrest" in Guangdong. Later, when Uighurs protested the murderous attack in Urumqi, the crowd was fired upon by Chinese authorities triggering lynch-mob rioting by Han Chinese against Uighurs in the central business district and throughout the city.

Although details on the over 1,400 people arrested are few, China leader Hu Jintao said many are students and will face the death penalty. Uighur leaders are claiming that many arrested are innocent Uighur youth and that Han perpetrators are going unpunished.

The reports and images coming out of western China have an eerie resemblance to the '228 Massacre' in Taiwan in 1947 where ethnic violence between the Formosans and troops of the Republic of China triggered four decades of harsh martial law.

The brutal violence on a short two-minute video clip betrays deeper-seated hatred than a simple reaction to a false rape report. The Washington Post version of events blames the murders on a false internet report of two Han women being raped by six Uighur men. Allegedly, the internet report provoked the savagery in Guangdong and subsequent rioting in Urumqi.

However, tensions between the Uighurs and Han Chinese are not new and have been building as China has forcibly attempted to assimilate the Uighur minority into the larger Chinese society. The depths of hostility between the Uighurs and Han are revealed starkly in the video clip of the Guangdong murders.

Meanwhile, an exodus of those able to leave Urumqi is underway. For those unable to leave the troubled city, military checkpoints, curfews, and restricted areas have become a new way of life under martial law.

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