IFC Statement on the Third Anniversary of the Ethnic Unrest in Urumqi

On the eve of the third anniversary of the ethnic unrest that occurred in Urumqi on July 5, 2009, Initiatives for China issued the following statement:

2012 marks the third anniversary of the ethnic unrest in Urumqi that occurred on July 5, 2009, the worst and most violent conflict between the Han Chinese and Uyghurs, which was triggered by Chinese government inaction over the deaths of two Uyghur factory workers in Shaoguan, Guangdong, and fueled by police violence against Uyghur demonstrators, resulting in hundreds dead and thousands injured.

IFC learned that in the aftermath of the unrest, the Chinese government launched a sweep operation , in which hundreds of Uyghur people were detained, tortured, and prosecuted, and severe sentences were handed down including death sentences for several dozen protesters and long prison terms for many.

IFC believes that the crackdown has been ongoing since 2009 and the government is still arresting those who reveal human rights abuses that took place during and after the protests.

IFC has also learned that at least 49 Uyghurs are known to have been forcibly “disappeared,” and for the past three years their family and friends have had no indication of their whereabouts. They are now coming forward to demand information from the Chinese authorities.

IFC believes that the root cause of the ethnic unrest in the region is the Chinese government’s repressive policy, long-time racial discrimination and cultural genocide against the Uyghur people. The current sustained harsh crackdown does not resolve ethnic issues but rather intensifies the Uyghur people’s hatred, and increases their grievances and desperation.

IFC urges the Chinese government to reverse its policy and take a reconciliatory approach by listening to the grievances of the Uyghur community and addressing their demands to have their rights respected and their culture protected.

IFC appeals to the Chinese government to take the immediate step of releasing all Uyghur people who have been imprisoned for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression. In addition, we call on the Chinese government to allow all who have been forced to disappear to return home, and to release information about the missing to their family members.

IFC calls on the United States and the international community to pressure China to take the above mentioned actions to address the Uyghur people’s grievances, and conduct a serious investigation into the truth of the tragedy and those who are responsible.

June 30, 2012

Initiatives for China