Urumqi City Profile
Riots and terrorist groups in Urumqi, Xinjiang are rising against the government.
Background & Overview
The current conflict in the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang is an ongoing conflict between Muslim Uyghur and Han Chinese. The Muslim Uyghur separatist claim that Xinjiang is not part of China, and is referred to as East Turkestan. The movement is against the national government in Beijing. The movement is being lead by the Turkic Islamic Militants and the East Turkestan independence movement. The tension between the ethnic Uyghur population and the Chinese government have had a long history. In the 1980s, a number of student demonstrations and riots against the government, the riots lead to over 50 student deaths. In the late 1990s, the police rounded up 30 suspected separatists and executed them. This resulted in a number of demonstrations in 1997, called riots in the Chinese media. However, the Western media said that the demonstrations were peaceful. The People's Liberation Army approached the demonstrators with violence, resulting in the death of 9 demonstrators. The reason for these demonstrations are to do with the differences with economic and cultural roots. The current situation stands that Han Chinese are given the best jobs in Urumqi and other areas of Xinjiang. Complaints have also risen that there are fewer mosques and the Chinese government has a strict control over religious schools in the region. In 2014, some of the Xinjiang government departments prohibited Muslim civil servants from fasting during the holy month (Ramadan).
In recent years, the Chinese government has cracked down on Uighurs after a series of riots in the 1990s and the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Tension continued to escalate in 2009, large-scale ethnic riots assembled in the city of Urumqi. Through the unrest, 200 people were killed in the city. Many Uighurs were detained, however riots continued as they pointed fingers at the tight control of the Beijing government. In 2012, six Uighurs were reported to have attempted to hijack a plane flying to Urumqi, however they were taken out by passengers and crew members, there goals were not reached. Between April and June of 2013, 27 people were killed by police who opened fire on a mob armed with knives who were attacking local government buildings. In May 2014, two cars crashed through a market in Urumqi, 31 citizens were killed and 90 more were injured. Explosions were thrown into crowds of civilians, the attack was named as a "violent terrorist incident". Facts around these incidents are hard to come by because foreign media and journalism are under tight control in the region. In April the same year, at Urumqi's south railway station, a bomb and knife attack killed three and injured 79 citizens. In July, officials say a knife wielding gang attacked a police station and many other government officials, killing 96 people.