Ethnic Clashes Over Gansu Mosque

Tibetans attack Chinese Muslims over long-delayed plans to build a mosque.

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A Muslim who was injured in the clashes.
Photo courtesy of a Mulang township resident.

Clashes broke out between Tibetans and Hui Muslims in the remote western Chinese province of Gansu last week, local residents said on Monday.

The clashes were apparently sparked by plans to go ahead with a planned mosque in the Tibetan Buddhist town of Mulang in Luqu county, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, according to Tibetan and Hui residents.

"There were more than a dozen Hui people hurt, six of them quite seriously," said a Hui Muslim resident of Mulang township surnamed Yang. "They have been taken to hospital in Lanzhou for treatment."

"A lot of us were hurt, and we feel hurt and anxious," she said, adding that six of the injured from Friday's clashes were "in danger."

She said that the Hui Muslims had been "savagely" attacked by around 200 people.

"A lot of people were bleeding from the head. They had no chance to defend themselves, whereas [their attackers] came well-prepared."

Strained relations

She said police were still investigating the incident, but that none of the attackers had apparently yet been detained.

"Both we and the Tibetans run guesthouses and clothes shops here, mostly, and both sides are in competition with each other," Yang said.

"Our relations are pretty strained, and the land for the mosque [in this incident] belongs to us Hui."

Calls to the prefectural government offices, to Mulang township government offices, and to the township police station went unanswered during office hours on Monday.

An official who answered the phone at the county government's religious and minority affairs bureau confirmed the incident had taken place, however.

"Ah, for that ... our bosses aren't here right now," the official said. "We received a report about this [on Sunday]."

"But I don't know the details," he said. "We are low-ranking officials, and our bosses aren't here."

'Years of stalling'

Meanwhile, a Tibetan resident of Mulang said the clashes were sparked by controversy over the building of a mosque.

"Yes, there was a bit [of trouble]," she said. "They don't want them to build [the mosque]."

But she said she didn't know why local people opposed the mosque, which Hui residents say they began building following nearly three decades of stalling on the part of the local government, which hadn't issued a permit for the project in spite of repeated applications.

Asked how many people were injured, the Tibetan woman said: "More than a dozen."

"No, there weren't [any Tibetans injured]. The other side had more [people injured]," she said.

She said the authorities hadn't dispatched police reinforcements in the form of armed police or riot police, however.

"No, there were no riot police or armed police there," she said, adding that the dispute over the mosque remained unresolved.

Asked if the 200 assailants were monks, she said, "Yes, that's right."

In 2007, authorities in the northwestern Chinese province of Qinghai detained up to 20 people, including two senior monks, after violent clashes between Tibetans and Hui Muslims that ended in the siege of a local mosque.

Reported by Fung Yat-yiu for RFA's Cantonese service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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