IFJ Urges Greater Transparency from Xinjiang Authorities

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges the authorities of Xinjiang

Uyghur Autonomous Region to release all information and

allow journalists to report on the latest deadly clash between policemen and

rioters on July 18.

 

According

to state-owned news agency Xinhua reports, a group of rioters carrying

explosive devices and grenades stormed a police station in Hotan, Xinjiang

Uyghur Autonomous Region on July 18. A policeman, a security guard and two

hostages were killed before armed police officers shot several of the

individuals dead that afternoon. The reports did not mention the cause of the incident.

 

The

number of deaths was increased to 14 on July 19, according to Global Times, the English-language sister

website of People’s Daily, the

official newspaper of the Communist Party of China. The report also said regional

information office chief Hou Hanmin reiterated concrete evidence had already

indicated that it was an organised attack by well-armed terrorists.

 

“The

assault was clearly targeted. The attackers hurt two people with knives in

nearby government offices and headed to the police station right after that.

…They took hostages during their attack so as to raise tensions.”

 

In

contrast to the reports, the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress said the

attack was in retaliation to police attempts to clampdown on a peaceful

demonstration outside a building.

 

In

a statement, the Congress said that more than 100

local Uyghurs peacefully gathered to protest a police crackdown imposed in the Nurbagh

area in place for the last two weeks.

 

“Demonstrators gathered and demanded to know the whereabouts of

relatives who had gone missing into police custody,” the statement said.

 

“Police opened fire on the demonstrators, killing at least 20

people.”

 

Another 12 people were injured seriously and more than 70 people

were arrested, the statement said.

 

All mainland media organisations including media in Xinjiang are

required to republish the Xinhua or Global

Times reports. No independent news reports are allowed.

 

“We are deeply concerned that the media is restricted from

independently reporting the details of a violent incident – a matter which is

obviously important for people to hear about,” the IFJ

Asia-Pacific said.

 

“The IFJ urges the authorities of Xinjiang to allow media to freely

report issues of urgent public concern.”

 

Xinjiang

authorities ordered a blackout of all electronic media and restricted all other

media reports after a deadly riot erupted on July 5, 2009. Official reports

said that a total of 197 people, mostly of Han ethnicity, were killed and 1,600

injured.