Chinese state controlled media claimed that at least six people were killed on July 30 when Uyghur rioters hijacked a truck at a red light, stabbed the driver, ran over pedestrians, and stabbed bystanders.
A report by AFP, however, shed different light on the incident. AFP quoted World Uyghur Congress spokesman Dilax Raxit as saying that the majority of the dead were police officers.
Uyghurs "do not have any way to protest peacefully, and in a desperate attempt to protest, they started a fight with the police," Raxit said. "The underlying cause of this incident is the repressive Chinese rule."
On July 31, at least three more people were killed, reportedly "hacked to death by the rioters." Chinese police shot dead four suspects later that night.
The incident follows one earlier this summer. On July 18, Uyghurs attacked a Chinese police station with homemade explosives and knives. Twenty people were killed in total; this number included 18 Uyghurs shot by police. The incident was related to China cracking down on Uyghur women who wore Islamic face veils.
These incidents are part of the growing tension between the Uyghur people and the Han Chinese in the region.
Chinese media claims that the attacks are by Islamic militant groups. According to Chinese officials, these militant groups want an independent Islamic homeland and receive training from Pakistan. The government has said that the attackers advocated "jihad," according to a report by the BBC.
President of World Uyghur Congress Rebiya Kadeer said that the violence is actually due to Uyghur frustration with Chinese rule. The region is rich with oil and gas deposits, and many believe that the Uyghurs are angry that these resources are going into the hands of the Han Chinese from China.
The BBC quoted Kadeer, the leader of Uyghur people, as saying, "I am saddened that Han Chinese and Uyghurs have lost their lives. At the same time I cannot blame the Uyghurs who carry out such attacks for they have been pushed to despair by Chinese policies." "The Chinese government has created an environment of hopelessness," Kadeer said.
East Turkistan had been illegally occupied in 1949 and since then the Uyghurs have been suffering greatly under the repressive Chinese Communist Government. They still form the majority in that area constituting 20 million people, however a rapid influx of illegal Han Chinese immigrants are diluting the population of the indigenous peoples and causing resentment.
Amnesty International has documented that, since 2001, “tens of thousands of people are reported to have been detained for investigation in the region, and hundreds, possibly thousands, have been charged or sentenced under the Criminal Law; many Uyghurs are believed to have been sentenced to death and executed for alleged “separatist” or “terrorist” offences.”