Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
www.OttawaStar.com • PAGE 13
Ethnic Uighurs say they’re facing new police scrutiny in Beijing By Christopher Bodeen and Isolda Morillo, The Associated Press
EIJING—In a dusty outdoor curio market in China’s capital, traders from the minority Uighur community gathered Oct 30 to swap stories about the omnipresent harassment they say they suffer at the hands of the police. That scrutiny has only intensified after the deadly vehicle attack at Tiananmen Square in which Uighurs are the prime suspects. Before the day ended, five suspects had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in Oct 28 audacious attack, which a police statement described as carefully planned terrorism strike—Beijing’s first in recent history. Police also said knives, iron rods, gasoline and a flag with religious slogans were found in the vehicle used in the suicide attack. Since the attack, police “come to search us every day. We don’t know why. Our IDs are checked every day, and we don’t know what is happening,’’ said Ali Rozi, 28, a Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) trader at the sprawling Panijayuan market.
“We have trouble every day, but we haven’t done anything,’’ said Rozi, who is from Kashgar, the capital of Xinjiang province where most Uighurs live. Militants from the Muslim Uighur community have been fighting a low-intensity insurgency against Chinese rule in Xinjiang for years. The police scrutiny of the Uighurs in Beijing highlights the years of discrimination that have fueled Uighur demands for independence for their northwestern homeland of Xinjiang. Many Uighurs say they face routine discrimination, irksome restrictions on their culture and Muslim religion, and economic disenfranchisement that has left them largely poor even as China’s economy booms. The Tiananmen Square incident is the first such attack outside Xinjiang in years, and among the most ambitious given the high-profile target. Uighurs are a Turkic Central Asian people related to Uzbeks, Khazaks and other groups. With their slightly European features and heavy accents, most are immediately recognizable as distinct from China’s ethnic Han majority.
The 9 million Uighurs now make up about 43 per cent of the population in Xinjiang, a region more than twice the size of Texas where they used to dominate. Uighurs frequently say they’re made to feel like second-class citizens, facing difficulties obtaining passports or even travelling outside Xinjiang. Hotels and
airlines are reported to have unofficial bans on catering to Uighurs, and many employers refuse to hire them. Xinjiang borders Afghanistan and unstable Central Asian states with militant Islamic groups, and Uighurs are believed to be among militants sheltering in Pakistan’s lawless northwestern region. Uighurs were also captured by U.S. forces following the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and 22 were held as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. All but three have since been released and now reside in Albania, Bermuda and elsewhere.
A look at Syrian refugees in Jordan By The Associated Press
A look at Syrian refugees in Jordan and in the region, with figures provided by U.N. aid agencies and the Jordanian government: Syrians who have fled their country: 2.1 million. Syrians displaced inside their country: 4.25 million. Syrian refugees in Jordan: $50,000, including 423,000 living in urban areas. School age children among the Syrian refugees in Jordan: 200,000.
Of those, number enrolled in school: more than 86,000. Syrian refugee children not enrolled in school in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt: 7 out of 10. Amount Jordan spent on refugees in 2012: $251 million. Amount Jordan expects to spend on refugees in 2013 (based on a projection of 1 million refugees): $850 million. Conservative estimate of Syrian refugee children working in Jordan: 30,000.
Pakistan tacitly agreed to US drone strikes: Report By Arun Kumar, IANS
Washington—Despite publicly denouncing US drone strikes, top Pakistani officials have for years secretly endorsed the campaign, the Washington Post reported citing top-secret CIA-Pakistani documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos. Top Pakistanis even routinely received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts, it said, and in one case a memo indicated “CIA was prepared to share credit with the Pakistanis if the agency could confirm that it had killed
Ilyas Kashmiri, an Al Qaeda operative suspected of ties to plots against India”. The agency would do so “so that the negative views about Pakistan in the US decision and opinion making circles are mitigated,” according to a diplomatic memo attributed to former deputy director of the CIA Michael J. Morell. Morell, who retired this year, delivered regular briefings on the drone programme to Husain Haqqani, who was the Pakistani ambassador to the US at the time, the influential US daily said. The secret files describe dozens of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal region
Is It Time For A Second Opinion?
and include maps as well as before-andafter aerial photos of targeted compounds over a four-year stretch from late 2007 to late 2011 in which the campaign intensified dramatically, it said. Markings on the documents indicate that many of them were prepared by the CIA’s Counterterrorism Centre specifically to be shared with Pakistan’s government. They tout the success of strikes that killed dozens of alleged Al Qaeda operatives and assert repeatedly that no civilians were harmed, the newspaper said. The CIA also shared maps and photographs of drone operations in
Pakistan that have not previously been shown publicly. These and other materials were routinely relayed “by bag” to senior officials in Islamabad, the documents indicate. The Post said a spokesman for the Pakistani embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. A CIA spokesman declined to discuss the documents but did not dispute their authenticity, it said. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the issue in a recent meeting with US President Barack Obama, “emphasising the need for an end to such strikes” but failed to get a response from the president.
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