Ethnic tensions rife in city's mixed areas

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 July, 2009, 12:00am

Ethnic tensions remained sharp in some of Urumqi's poorer districts yesterday, even as work got under way to clear away burned wreckage and repair shop fronts shattered in Sunday's riots.

In Erdaowan, in the city's southeast, where Han Chinese, Hui Muslims and Uygurs live side by side, residents were still trying to come to terms with the violence that erupted this week.

One Uygur mother expressed the anger underlying the riots.

'I hate Chinese people, they are all bad,' she said. 'They only care about Chinese people and think nothing of Uygurs. The news makes a big fuss over any Chinese person that dies or is hurt but they never mention what happens to Uygurs. It is like we do not exist.'

She said officials were 'pigs' and predicted that there would be more violence. 'China is not my country,' she said. 'Within 10 years, Xinjiang will not be a part of China.'

The Hui owner of a noodle shop next door said the mixed community would never recover. 'My wife and I live upstairs, and we were terrified throughout the rioting,' he said. 'Things will never be the same. Even though I don't think we would be targeted, the sense of trust is gone.'

Wang Tengyun, who was replacing metal shutters on his convenience store, said police failed to come on time when they were attacked on Sunday.

'We were attacked three times,' he said. 'All the windows were smashed and the shop was set alight with firebombs. We had to keep putting out the flames in between the attacks.

'The police said they were too busy in other parts of the city and told us to fend for ourselves,' he said. 'Han, Uygur and Hui had to join forces to drive off the rioters.'

Other Han residents said Han groups took to the street on Tuesday in a display of power. 'Obviously, it is wrong for people to be killing other people, regardless of race, but Han people suffered a lot,' said one resident, who refused to give his name. 'We had to show the Uygurs that Han outnumber them in Urumqi and they would not stand a chance if we really wanted take them on.'