Equal Justice? Not Likely

In an article by the Times of India which reports the Chinese government is reaching out to Pakistan and other countries to try to find ties (which do not exist) between the World Uighur Congress and protests in Urumqi and elsewhere in East Turkestan, there’s this tidbit about how the Chinese government plans to handle some of the thousands of Uighurs that have already been detained.

The Communist Party boss of Urumqi said the local government will seek death penalty for those involved in the killing of 156 people during the orgy of violence on Sunday. Li Zhi, the local party boss, said the streets of the city are totally under the control of security forces.

The authorities also launched a concentrated effort to connect with all communities with the help of leaflets dropped from airplanes and appeals made through loud speakers telling people to stay calm and eschew violence.

Li made a significant revelation saying most of those detained for the violence were young students. This may not be good news for authorities, who were hoping that the young would be charmed by promises of modern development instead of carrying forward the old struggle for an independent East Turkmenistan nation.

Of course, the Chinese government has only made statements in connection to violence allegedly committed by Uighurs against Han Chinese. But we know for a fact that bands of Han vigilantes are killing Uighurs on the street. Al Jazeera reporter Melissa Chan has reported via twitter:

Uighurs tell us Han mob of 300 attacked neighborhood around 9 pm Tuesday night — at least 6 killed.

Will the Chinese government seek the death penalty for groups of Han vigilantes who have murdered Uighurs? Have any Han Chinese been arrested for their crimes? Will the government even try to stop this kind of ethnic violence?

If the fallout of the Tibetan national uprising of spring 2008 is any indication, Uighurs will be prosecuted with extreme prejudice and sentenced to long terms, death, or simply disappeared. There won’t be a single prosecution of a Han Chinese vigilante. And state media will only report the deaths and injuries of Han Chinese, with no regard for the reports Uighurs give of the violence they have suffered at the hands of the Chinese army, police, and vigilantes.

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