HONG KONG—Two prominent voices on China’s Internet have called for balance in reporting on recent ethnic violence in the northwestern city of Urumqi.
“I think there are some things which should be made open, and I don’t think that the news should all be one-sided,” UyghurBiz.com Web site manager and ethnic Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti said.
“It needs to be a bit more even-handed,” said Tohti, who was himself detained briefly after writing about the reasons behind deadly ethnic strife that erupted in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in July.
Mass protests were sparked in the regional capital last week after reports that hundreds of people had been stabbed with syringes in the city, with a demonstration Thursday leaving at least four dead.
Beijing blames Muslim separatist groups among ethnic Uyghurs for the syringe attacks, which came after deadly ethnic violence killed nearly 200 people in early July.
In a bid to publicize nongovernment accounts of the violence, Tohti’s Web site posted a report from Urumqi detailing the beating by a Han Chinese mob of well-known calligrapher and journalist Kaynam Jappar as he left his home in the regional capital.
The Web site said the incident occurred between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sept. 3 outside the Sun, Moon, and Starlight Restaurant near his home.
“He was set upon by six or seven Han Chinese men, and shouted for help,” the report said.
“Two security guards from the restaurant saved him ... He had two black eyes and impaired vision and seven stitches in his forehead. He had a fractured kneecap,” it added.
Singer’s death reported
Also in Beijing, Tibetan writer and blogger Woeser said she had posted an account in Chinese of the beating death of Uyghur singer Mirzat Alim.
Woeser reported that Alim, 43, died Sept. 2 after being set upon by an armed mob of Han Chinese near his Urumqi home.
“I think that any death of any person from any race, be it Han Chinese or Uyghur, is very sad,” said Woeser, whose post also mentioned the beating of Kaynam Jappar in an attempt to bring more balance to coverage online in China.
“I called for interracial understanding on my blog. We haven’t seen the deaths of ... Uyghurs reported anywhere inside China.”
Commenters to the blog post said it was being circulated among some prominent Chinese bloggers via the micro-blogging service Twitter.
“I have also explained that we are unable to hear Uyghur voices in China because of a huge amount of suppression and fear,” she added.
“That is why I tried to report the news [of Alim’s death] on my blog.”
Ilham Tohti said that Alim was a friend of his, but that he had been unable to contact his family for news and that friends had said the singer’s body was discovered with both eyes gouged out.
In the report on Kaynam Jappar’s beating, UyghurBiz.com said the journalist had also seen 14 other Uyghurs in the Autonomous Region No. 2 Hospital who had been injured by Han Chinese mobs, including two children. One person had died of injuries.
Experts say there is scant sympathy in the official Chinese media for the idea that Uyghurs might have legitimate grievances.
A lack of details in state-sponsored reporting has led to a lack of trust in the government’s version of events, and has fueled rumors that spur greater ethnic tension.
More than 500 people have sought treatment for syringe stabbings in recent days, though only about 100 showed signs of having been stabbed, official media said.
Original reporting by Ding Xiao for RFA’s Mandarin service and by RFA’s Uyghur service. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Uyghur service director: Dolkun Kamberi. Written in English and translated by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.