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China police detain 13 Uyghur Flood Rescuers

Posted by Author on June 18, 2010

Radio Free Asia, 2010-06-18 –

HONG KONG— Authorities near the Silk Road city of Kashgar have detained around a dozen ethnic Uyghurs after they organized themselves to help local residents hit by huge rainstorms and massive flash flooding, overseas groups and officials said.

“We are all engaged in flood relief work,” said a police officer who answered the phone at Yengisar [in Chinese, Yingjisha] county’s Uchar [in Chinese, Wuqia] police station in the Kashgar region of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

He said local officials had already implemented flood prevention measures in case the floods came back.

But he declined to comment on the reported detentions of 13 Uyghurs for disturbing public order.

“I can’t answer that question,” the officer said.

“Can you get your information from the Internet—we are very busy here,” he said.

An employee who answered the phone at the Wuqia village credit union said the flooding had been going on for three days, and was still causing disruption for local residents, some of whom had been made homeless.

“There was some very heavy rain here,” she said.

“And 330 people had their homes damaged or destroyed.”

Flash flooding

“We can lend them up to a maximum of 20,000 yuan. Some people have asked for 5,000 yuan, so we have made some loans of 5,000 yuan.”

According to official media, heavy flash flooding in Yengisar county caused flooding in villages No. 3, 4, 5, and 6 lasting longer than three hours in a region that had no recorded floods for at least a century, knocking out water supplies, communications, and transportation links.

A large number of houses collapsed, reports said.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, said 13 Uyghur residents had been detained on public order charges after local officials said their assistance efforts had too strong a religious flavor.

“They were detained by the local public security department, and the local authorities said they were disturbing public order,” Raxit said.

“The people were organizing themselves to help people out after the floods, and relaying information of the flood situation everywhere. The government said they were disturbing the peace.”

He said residents had begun to organize themselves in the face of a slow response to the disaster from local officials……(more details from Radio Free Asia)

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