China: terror blasts in Shanxi; Uighurs feel pressure
A series of explosions outside the provincial Communist Party headquarters in Taiyuan, capital of China's Shanxi province, left one dead and at least eight wounded Nov. 6. National broadcaster CCTV said more than 20 vehicles were damaged. Coverage inevitably invokes last week's Tiananmen Square attack, which has been blamed on Uighur militants. But South China Morning Post notes that the blasts come a week after "a team of graft investigators from Beijing arrived in Taiyuan to conduct an in-depth review of the province's finances." Authorities have appealed to citizens with personal grievances not to overwhelm the team. There have been several bomb blasts in China over the past years apparently motivated by frustration with official corruption rather than any ideological or ethnic agenda. Shanxi has seen violence in recent years over labor unrest and land disputes.
Uighurs are coming under increased pressure since the Beijing attack. Ilham Tohti, the most outspoken Uighur dissident within China, told reporters that he got into a confrontation with security agents in Beijing on Nov. 3 after the men rammed his car and threatened to kill his wife and children. Tohti, an economics professor at the Central University for Nationalities and founder of the website Uyghur Online, said the plainclothes agents sought to persuade him to stop speaking to foreign reporters. "I've been monitored, kept under house arrest and followed by the police for many years, but I've never seen public security agents behave this way," he told the New York Times by phone. "To threaten children just isn't human." (NYT, Nov. 4 via Uyghur American Association) (Radio Free Asia reported June 12, 2008 that the Uyghur Online website had been shut down by authorities.)
China's official Global Times on Oct. 31 ran an editorial on the Tiananmen attack which, while saying the response should "avoid jeopardizing the harmony of society," contained barely veiled threats: "The violent terrorists involved in the Square incident are all Uyghurs. Society will see the real negative effects brought by the violent terrorists. Flights between Xinjiang and inland [sic] regions are currently under more stringent security checking... Violent terrorists are the common enemies of all China. People from Xinjiang, especially the Uyghurs will be the biggest victims."
Rebiya Kadeer, exiled leader of the World Uyghur Congress, responded from Munich: "Here is another lost opportunity for China to show the world it can act responsibly. Rather than open up the Tiananmen incident to independent investigation, Chinese authorities are issuing sinister threats against the Uyghur people and making damaging accusations no one can check. The situation in East Turkestan for Uyghurs is already unacceptable. Any way you look at the contemporary Uyghur condition, politically, economically or culturally, the Chinese government has imposed policies that are unbearable. Any intensification of repressive measures will hasten the Chinese government's goal of confining the Uyghur people to the history books."