|Uighur leader says ethnic minority is not enemy
An exiled Uighur rights leader urged China against “demonizing'' the ethnic group after a deadly attack for which officials have blamed Xinjiang separatists.
Machete-wielding assailants clad in black slashed scores of people at a railway station in southwestern Kunming late Saturday, killing 29 and wounding 143, AFP reports.
The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress condemned the violence and its exiled president, Rebiya Kadeer, appealed to Beijing not to crack down on the minority.
“At this time of heightened tensions, it is important the Chinese government deal with the incident rationally and not set about demonizing the Uighur people as state enemies,'' she said in a statement.
On Monday the police captured three suspects, including the group's leader identified as Abdurehim Kurban, the government said. Four attackers were shot dead at the scene.
The WUC said that it “unequivocally condemns the violence'' and also expressed condolences to the victims of the attack and their families.
“The WUC urges calm on all sides and calls on the Chinese government to provide assurances that Uighurs will not be subjected to indiscriminate reprisals,'' the group said.
Kadeer, once a wealthy businesswoman, fell out with the Chinese government and was jailed before being released in 2005 and moving to the United States, where she is based.
“The fact remains that peaceful dissent against repressive government policies targeting Uighurs is legitimate, so the Chinese government must not conflate this constructive criticism with the events of 1 March,'' she said.
It was “absolutely vital'' that Beijing addresses “longstanding and deteriorating human rights issues facing Uighurs if tensions are to be reduced,’’ she added.
Rights groups say tensions in Xinjiang are driven by cultural oppression, intrusive security measures and immigration by majority Han Chinese. Beijing claims that its policies in the region have brought prosperity and higher living standards.