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China: 43 Detainees ‘Disappeared’ After Xinjiang Protests, Recent Report Shows

Posted by Author on October 22, 2009

Human Rights Watch, October 21, 2009 –

(New York) – The Chinese government should immediately account for all detainees in its custody and allow independent investigations into the July 2009 protests in Urumqi and their aftermath, Human Rights Watch said in a new report on enforced “disappearances” released today.

The 44-page report, “‘We Are Afraid to Even Look for Them’: Enforced Disappearances in the Wake of Xinjiang’s Protests,” documents the enforced disappearances of 43 Uighur men and teenage boys who were detained by Chinese security forces in the wake of the protests.

“The cases we documented are likely just the tip of the iceberg,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Chinese government says it respects the rule of law, but nothing could undermine this claim more than taking people from their homes or off the street and ‘disappearing’ them – leaving their families unsure whether they are dead or alive.”

Last week, Xinjiang judicial authorities started trials of people accused of involvement in the protests. Nine men have already been sentenced to death, three others to death with a two-year reprieve, and one to life imprisonment.

Human Rights Watch research has established that on July 6-7, 2009, Chinese police, the People’s Armed Police, and the military conducted numerous large-scale sweep operations in two predominantly Uighur areas of Urumqi, Erdaoqiao, and Saimachang. On a smaller scale, these operations and targeted raids continued at least through mid-August.

The victims of “disappearances” documented by Human Rights Watch were young Uighur men. Most were in their 20s, although the youngest reported victims were 12 and 14 years old. It is possible that some Han Chinese also became victims of “disappearances” and unlawful arrests. However, none of the more than two dozen Han Chinese residents of Urumqi interviewed by Human Rights Watch provided any information about such cases.

According to witnesses, the security forces sealed off entire neighborhoods, searching for young Uighur men. In some cases, they first separated the men from other residents, pushed them to their knees or flat on the ground, and, at least in some cases, beat the men while questioning them about their participation in the protests. Those who had wounds or bruises on their bodies, or had not been at their homes during the protests, were then taken away. In other cases, the security forces simply went after every young man they could catch and packed them into their trucks by the dozens……. (more details from Human Rights Watch)

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