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Communist Party City Chief in Xinjiang Sacked After Mass Protests

Posted by Author on September 6, 2009

Radio Free asia, 2009-09-05 –

Chinese armed police march along a street in Urumqi, Sept. 5, 2009. (via RFA)

Chinese armed police march along a street in Urumqi, Sept. 5, 2009. (via RFA)

HONG KONG— The top Communist Party official in the city of Urumqi, Li Zhi, has been removed from his post after days of mass protests in which five people died, sparked by a bizarre series of syringe stabbings.

The director of Xinjiang’s public security department, Liu Yaohua, was also sacked and replaced with Aksu prefecture party chief Zhu Changjie.

Authorities have meanwhile deployed thousands of riot police to the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where nearly 200 people were killed in July in fighting between Han Chinese and ethnic Uyghurs.

Unconfirmed reports said police used tear gas to disperse protesters, while other reports said the stabbings were continuing.

Protesters marched by the thousands Thursday and Friday demanding the resignation of Li and his boss, Xinjiang party secretary Wang Lequan, for failing to provide adequate public safety in the city.

No reasons were citing for the firings, but the rioting in July was the worst in Xinjiang in more than a decade. Uyghurs, who are ethnically distinct and largely Muslim, have long chafed under Beijing’s rule.

“I think it’s saying to local officials: don’t allow anything like this to happen.  The implicit message is: do whatever you need to make sure there are not such events, meaning–use repression, use policing, use infiltration and so forth,” Gardner Bovingdon, a professor of Central Eurasian studies at the University of Indiana told RFA on Saturday.

“Hard-liners are in the ascendant.   The July 5 protests and this new round of protests and the firing … all indicate that the government is going to go for still more rigorous political control,” he added……. (more details from Radio Free asia)

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