Source: The New York Times
The Chinese government locked down this regional capital of 2.3 million people and other cities across its western desert region on Monday and early Tuesday, imposing curfews, cutting off cellphone and Internet services and sending armed police officers into neighborhoods after clashes erupted here on Sunday evening between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese. The fighting left at least 156 people dead and more than 1,000 injured, according to the state news agency.
But hundreds of Uighur protesters defied the police again on Tuesday morning, crashing a state-run tour of the riot scene for foreign and Chinese journalists. A wailing crowd of women, joined later by scores of Uighur men, marched down a wide avenue with raised fists and tearfully demanded that the police release Uighur men who they said had been seized from their homes after the violence. Some women waved the identification cards of men who had been detained.
As journalists watched, the demonstrators smashed the windshield of a police car and several police officers drew their pistols before the entire crowd was encircled by officers and paramilitary troops in riot gear.
“A lot of ordinary people were taken away by the police,” a protester named Qimanguili, a 13-year-old girl clad in a white T-shirt and a black headscarf, said, crying. She said her 19-year-old brother had been taken away by police officers on Monday, long after the riots had ended.
The confrontation later ebbed to a tense standoff between about 100 protesters, mostly women, some carrying infants, and riot police in black body armor and helmets, tear-gas launchers at the ready, in a Uighur neighborhood pocked with burned-out homes and an automobile sales lot torched during the Sunday riots.
The fighting on Sunday was the deadliest episode of ethnic violence in China in decades. The bloodshed here, along with the Tibetan uprising last year, shows the extent of racial hostility that still pervades much of western China, fueled partly by economic disparity and by government attempts to restrict religious and political activity by minority groups.