Chinese settlers killed in East Turkestan
Several Han Chinese were killed in three attacks by Uyghurs this month, in a possible reflection of growing frustration over the preferential treatment of Chinese immigrants by government officials in the area.The attacks took place in two towns within Yengishahar county, in Kashgar prefecture’s Kashgar district, as well as one in Maralbeshi county, according to police, although none were reported on by the official Chinese media or the regional government.While there have been various speculations on the exact number killed, police said that six Chinese deaths were reported in Aral and two in Yengerik, both towns in Yengishahar county.
World Uyghur Congress spokesman Dilshat Raxit noted that a rapid increase in Chinese immigration to the Xinjiang region since the Communists took power in 1949 has been seen as a threat to the native Uyghurs.
“The Chinese population in [Xinjiang] has reached 40 percent from 4 percent in 1949. It’s impossible that the speed of the increase wouldn’t concern and anger Uyghurs,” he said.
Dilshat Raxit said Uyghurs in Xinjiang tend to “see the migrants as a threat to their future” and as “more dangerous than the Chinese army in [Xinjiang].”
Ethnic tensions between Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese settlers have simmered for years, and erupted in riots in July 2009 that left some 200 people dead, according to the Chinese government’s tally.
Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness despite China's ambitious plans to develop its vast northwestern frontier.
Chinese authorities blame Uyghur separatists for a series of deadly attacks in recent years and accuse one group in particular of maintaining links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.