China's repressive nature came to the fore again in the beginning of February 1997, when -- according to a report by Uighur expatriates in the US -- Chinese police and armored troops killed some 400 people, including women and children, in the East Turkestan town of Yining.
On 5 and 6 of February 1997, there were major demonstrations in the town to demand the release of people who were detained in a mass arrest during the previous days. On the first day, the police first used high pressure water hoses and tear gas to disperse the crowds. However, since the temperatures were far below freezing, many people froze to death. The police then started shooting. In total, some 240 people died the first day.
On the second day, the Chinese received reinforcements from troops, an army combat corps numbering some 30,000 men from Gansu, and another 160 people were killed in machine gun fire from both helicopter gunships and the ground.
The first victim of a Chinese-fired bullet was a 8 year-old Uighur girl named Fatima who came to demand the release of her father. A pregnant lady named Gulzira, who came for her husband, was also shot to death. One family from Juliza (a district 15 miles from Yining) had six members killed at the same day in Yining massacre.
The Chinese authorities have imposed a "Three-No" policy: "no questioning, no telling, no visiting". Nobody is allowed to question the events in Yining, nobody is allowed to tell outsiders the true story, and nobody is allowed to visit relatives who were jailed in Yining massacre.
Several thousand wounded and imprisoned people are still held in a prison camp. The Chinese police and military are still arresting people on the streets. Particularly suspicious are men with a mustache: among the Uihgurs, growing a mustache has become a symbol of resistance against the Chinese.
Extensive report of the events in East Turkestan were also published in the New York Times ("In West China, tension with ethnic muslims erupts," 28 February 1997) and in the Far Eastern Economic Review ("Uighur Fire", 27 February 1997).
March 10th 1997 marked the 38th commemoration of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against the Chinese repression, and the subsequent Chinese crackdown. As is reported extensively by groups such as the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, the Chinese authorities are continuing their repression, arrest of people in particular Buddhist monks and their attempts to obliterate the Tibetan language and culture.
The event was marked by a commemorative protest rally in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington DC. For further information about the Tibetan activities, please visit the Homepage of the International Campaign for Tibet at http://www.peacenet.org/ict
In our previous Taiwan Communiqué, we reported on the measures taken by China to strangle freedoms in Hong Kong (Communiqué no. 74, pp. 17-19). One of the measures was the repeal of civil liberty legislation by China's handpicked "Interim Legislature" and the Beijing-appointed "Preparatory Committee."
A few weeks later, on the weekend of 23 February 1997, China's legislature, the "Peoples' Congress", voted to strike down 14 civil liberty laws in their entirety and portions of 10 other laws. It also decided that Hong Kong's Bill of Rights, which guarantees freedom of speech and assembly and other civil liberties, would "... no longer have supremacy over other laws."
The scrapping of the civil liberty legislation has been strongly criticized in Hong Kong. The Wall Street Journal quoted a civil servant saying that U.S. pressure is vital if the "one-country, two systems" is going to work ("What Gore might have learned in Hong Kong," 28 March 1997).
In another report, the New York Times quoted Ms. Anson Chan, the highest-ranking civil servant in the territory as saying that "...the decision by ... Beijing ... to return to Draconian colonial laws governing the freedom of assembly and the right of association has created doubts abroad about China's commitment to Hong Kong's way of life." She added: "The plans to revoke existing laws sent an extremely negative signal ... and there is clearly concern about whether human rights will be protected after 1997."
The fourth instance of China's continued reluctance to respect internationally accepted human rights came as it maneuvered to have the annual resolution criticizing China for its human rights violations defeated.
Ever since the Tienanmen massacre of 1989, the European Union Nations and the US have sponsored such a resolution at the annual UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, but time and again, China was able to block adoption of the resolution through pressure on Third World nations.
This year, China was also able to cause a crack in the West European front: France announced on 28 March 1997, that it would not support the resolution. China has been dangling a large aircraft order in front of Mr. Jacques Chirac's nose, and he hopes to have the order signed when he visits Beijing in May 1997.
Taiwan Communiqué comment: China has mastered the game of playing the US and Europe out against each other. The Airbus and Boeing stories are clear examples of how China manipulates the US and Europe. When will we ever learn ?
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