Chinese Repression of Uighurs Continues on Fourth Anniversary of Unrest | Freedom House

Chinese Repression of Uighurs Continues on Fourth Anniversary of Unrest

As the fourth anniversary of the 2009 crackdown on peaceful Uighur demonstrators by Chinese security forces nears, Freedom House remains deeply concerned about the ongoing repression in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China. Freedom House calls on the Chinese government to allow an independent investigation of the July 2009 events and to immediately release or provide information about the hundreds of detainees who remain unaccounted for.


On July 5, 2009, Chinese security forces in Urumqi violently suppressed peaceful demonstrators seeking justice for Uighur factory workers who were killed during a brawl with ethnic Han in June of that year. The police action sparked clashes between Uighurs and Han residents and state-run media reported that 197 people were killed, though state censorship and intimidation of witnesses have made it difficult to verify the number dead. The crackdown that followed involved sweeping “disappearances”—including of youth as young as 12—imprisonment, torture, and executions of Uighurs. Many of the hundreds of men abducted remain unaccounted for.


Four years later, ethnic tensions remain high, as restrictions on freedom of expression and religion have intensified. Outbreaks of violence in Xinjiang on June 26 and 29 reportedly killed at least 35 people, as police clashed with protestors, apparently prompting authorities to cut off internet and telephone lines to Turpan Prefecture. The government has blamed “religious extremists” and flooded the region with security forces, but maintains tight control over the flow of information and refuses to acknowledge the role that its repressive policies have played in heightening tensions. Over the past year, authorities have intensified curbs on Islam, while discrimination, policies marginalizing use of the Uighur language, government efforts to alter the region’s demography, and destructive “urban renewal” projects in the ancient city of Kashgar have continued, exacerbating resentment among the Uighur community.


China is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom of the Press 2013, and Freedom of the Net 2012.

To learn more about China, visit:

Freedom in the World 2013: China

Freedom of the Press 2013: China

Freedom on the Net 2012: China

Blog: Freedom at Issue

Video: Chen Guangcheng on Human Rights in China

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhousedc) and stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our RSS feeds, newsletter and our blog.