China locks down Xinjiang a decade after deadly ethnic riots
Updated : 2019-07-06 12:52:07
A decade after deadly riots tore through his hometown, Kamilane Abudushalamu still vividly recalls the violence that left him an exile. On July 5, 2009, Abudushalamu was hiding with his father on the 10th floor of an office tower in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang region that is home to the Turkic Uighur ethnic minority. By a park, he spotted a bus on fire. Then he heard a crack as a motorcycle nearby exploded. Hours later, when he and his father stepped out to sprint home, he saw crowds of Uighurs stabbing Han Chinese in front of a middle school. The bodies of half a dozen people lay scattered on the streets — just a fraction of the estimated 200 killed that night. Abudushalamu and tens of thousands of other Uighurs now live in Turkey, cut off from friends and family back home. Analysts say the Urumqi riots set in motion the harsh security measures now in place across Xinjiang, where about 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims are estimated to be held in heavily guarded internment camps. Former detainees have told The Associated Press that within, they are subject to indoctrination and psychological torture. Abudushalamu was just 9 years old when the riots took place. At the time, he knew he was witnessing something terrible, but he never imagined where the following years would lead. "I thought Han and Uighur people could be at peace," he said. "The camps? I never thought that would happen.