Uighurs not allowed to protest
In the north-west region of Xinjiang the Uighur people are angry that the Chinese authorities did not act to protect migrant Uighur workers in the south-east of China. That seems to have been the spark that ignited the recent protests. Like the Tibetans the Uighurs have many grievances and the feeling that their language, culture and religion are not respected. John Gittings in the Guardian's Comment is Free says that the violence "suggests that Uighur resentment at heavy-handed Chinese policies has begun to boil over". He also says that Xinjiang shares with Tibet the misfortune of being seen by the Chinese authorities as a strategic buffer zone.
In Tiananmen Square 20 years ago protests were crushed with brutal force and people around the world were shocked. It looks as if the Chinese authorities have now allowed a repeat performance.
See Amnesty's urging of a fair and impartial investigation into the handling of the protests. Also see an April 2009 Amnesty document: Uighur ethnic identity under threat.
The Chinese government accuses Rebiya Kadeer, in exile in the USA, of inciting the protests but she denies this. Similarly they accused the exiled Dalai Lama of being behind protests in Tibet.
In fiction in Orwell's 1984 the government had the hate figure of Emmanuel Goldstein as a focus for the anger of the people. I have written before about this book and another by George Orwell.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.