07/07/2009, 00.00
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More protests in Urumqi and other cities in Xinjiang

Women and girls seeking the release of their relatives detained in recent days. Demonstrations in Kashgar, Yılı, Dawan and Tianshan. Rebiya Kadeer: The violence reveals deep problems that Beijing has never wanted to deal with.

Urumqi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Several hundred people, mostly women and girls, are challenging the cordons of police on the streets of Urumqi: protesting against Chinese repression and demanding the release of their relatives, who were arrested after the revolts of July 5.

This morning Xinhua updated the number of victims and of those arrested: in the clashes with the police, there were 156 deaths and 1434 arrests. The Chinese government continues to discharge the responsibilities of violence against the demonstrators, but the population accuses the police of having fired on defenceless people.

Meanwhile, yesterday the demonstrations spread to other cities in Xinjiang. In Kashgar more than 200 people tried to gather at the Id Kah mosque, but were dispersed by police. The police have made arrests in Yılı, Dawan and Tianshan.

In Urumqi, women and girls seeking the release of their loved ones, have challenged the control of the city and the roads patrolled by tanks and scores of police officers wearing camouflage. Shouting "Give us back our freedom! Give us back our men. " The demonstration was witnessed by a group of foreign journalists who were being brought on a tour organized by the government to show the destruction caused by the demonstrators two days ago.

The police surrounded the group and then dispersed them. But other groups of protesters are gathering in the city centre.

Tens of thousands of policemen and soldiers were hired to maintain control of the situation and to carry out a series of indiscriminate arrests and destruction.

Beijing continues to accuse groups of exiled Uygurs of organizing and fomenting the uprisings. But the same groups deny any influence, and accuse China of doing nothing to prevent the degeneration of the non-violent demonstrations into carnage.

Amnesty International (AI) has asked the Chinese government to investigate the deaths and violence in Urumqi and demand the international community put pressure on Beijing to respect human rights.

"Beyond the immediate violence - AI says – a systematic violation of human rights has been inflicted on the Uighurs” since the 80s.

For decades China has been colonizing Xinjiang, which is rich in oil and gas, importing many Han Chinese, who have now become the majority in the region and hold all political and economic power.  To justify its iron fist Beijing accuses the Uygurs of separatists aspirations and terrorist attacks.

Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled Uygurs who China accuses of being behind the riots, speaking in Washington said yesterday that the violence in Xinjiang "reveals deep, serious problems that the Chinese government has not wanted to tackle or mitigate".



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