Rights & Democracy urges restraint and respect for human rights in Xinjiang

MONTREAL – July 9, 2009 – The government of China’s response to unrest in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region must be exercised with restraint and comply with international human rights law, says Rights & Democracy.

Rights & Democracy is deeply concerned by the violence that has engulfed the region’s capital city, Urumqi, in recent days. It is estimated that at least 150 people are dead and more than 800 injured. Hundreds more demonstrators have been arbitrarily detained. There have also been reports that authorities have blocked internet and cell phone access.

“People in China have the right to freely and peacefully express their opinions without interference from government,” said Rémy M. Beauregard, President of Rights & Democracy. “The government of China must respect the rule of law and provide assurances that detainees will have access to due process in accordance with Chinese national law and international human rights norms.”

This week’s unrest in Xinjiang is the latest example of long-standing tensions between the region’s minority Uighur population and Han Chinese migrants. Several international human rights organizations have reported systematic discrimination against the Uighur community in China including severe restrictions on use of their language and the practice of their cultural traditions and Muslim faith.