ICT regrets the bloodshed and loss of life and strongly condemns the Chinese government sanctioned and disproportionate use of violence against Uyghur protestors. The terrifying violence and repression on the streets of Urumqi and Kashgar in Xinjiang (East Turkestan) over the past few days, more than a year on from the beginning of protests in Tibet, is further evidence of the breakdown of the Chinese government’s policies towards the Tibetan and Uyghur people.

Mary Beth Markey, Vice President for International Advocacy for the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “The Chinese government will only end the cycle of resentment, unrest and violent repression by acknowledging the legitimate grievances of the Uyghur and Tibetan people, and allowing for a measure of self-rule and the protection of their unique identity.”

In the last few days, clashes between Uyghur and Chinese following the beatings of Uyghurs by a Chinese mob at a factory have left at least 150 people dead and more than 1,000 wounded. Chinese President Hu Jintao cut short his visit to Italy for the G8 Summit to return to China today. Security was reportedly intensified in Lhasa after the Uyghur protests broke out.

The Dalai Lama said today: “I am deeply saddened and concerned with the worsening situation in East Turkestan (Xinjiang), especially with the tragic loss of lives. I earnestly urge the Chinese authorities to exercise restraint in dealing with the situation in a spirit of understanding and far-sightedness. I offer my prayers for those who lost their lives, their families and others affected by this sad turn of events.”

Like the Tibetans, the Uyghur people have been faced with unchecked Chinese immigration, repression of their culture and religion, the razing of ancient centers of Uyghur culture such as the old town of Kashgar, severe repression and social and economic marginalization. The Beijing leadership has so far shown itself to be incapable, as with other authoritarian governments, of acknowledging and responding to the causes of popular discontent other than through blocking information and the use of brute force.

See the website of the DC-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, for the latest reports and analysis on events in East Turkistan.