Xinjiang Crippled by Urumqi Riots; Curfew Set | Xinjiang: Far West China

Xinjiang Crippled by Urumqi Riots; Curfew Set

July 5, 2009 | 4 Comments

On Sunday, July 5th at around 9:30pm Beijing time, a riot began which has crippled Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang province. As with any such event here in China, reports are sketchy and numbers vary drastically.  Misleading photos and estimations are already circulating all over the web.  Reliable details won’t be available for at least another 24 hours, but here is a list of what can be confirmed:

  • Smoke rises over Urumqi during the 2009 Uyghur riotsMany Uyghur have taken to the streets of Urumqi, overturning vehicles and breaking store windows.
  • Deaths have occurred (reports of three as of this writing, but not confirmed) SEE UPDATE BELOW
  • A curfew has been set for all residents of Urumqi (official government-issued announcement)
  • Most videos and pictures about this riot are being blocked in the mainland as soon as they appear on the internet.

What is not clearly known at this time is the reason for the riots.  Most people speculate that it has something to do with the incident in Shaoguan in which a toy factory brawl left 2 Uyghurs dead and many more injured.  Blame for the Urumqi riot will most likely land on the shoulders of Rabiya Kadeer, one of the most prominent Uyghur leaders who had called for the Uyghurs to protest this incident.

If you are planning on traveling to Xinjiang anytime this week it might be wise to reconsider your plans.  Security will definitely be tight and police on high alert at this time.

An update will be made once further information is gathered, but until then you can read more here:

The New Dominion: Riots in Urumqi – Videos
ESWN – The Urumqi Mass Incident (New Roundup)
Reuters – Riot Strikes China’s Xinjiang Region Capital

Update 7/6: The internet has now been cut as well as all international phone lines.  Communication outside of Xinjiang has become extremely difficult, rendering regular updates to this article impossible.

Update 7/31: The China Daily reports that the riots left 197 people dead and over 1700 injured.  Over the past month over 1,600 people have been detained in connection to the riots with trials to begin in mid-August.

Final Update: Follow how these riots changed the face of Xinjiang and how it connects to the internet with the FWC categories Riots and Internet Blackout.

About Josh Summers

Josh is a writer, musician and entrepreneur who currently resides in Urumqi, capital of China's western province of Xinjiang. He has been traveling and writing about this region since 2006 and has no plans to stop in the near future.

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  1. Oshama bin lada seems to keep in contact with his supporters with out to much trouble.He has alot more restrictions than the exiled Uyghur leader. Living here in Xinjiang her name comes up from time to time with my Uygur friends and they can't say any good things about her or the world wide uygur congress.

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