Security Tight in Beijing, Urumqi

Clampdown continues over Tiananmen memorial events and ahead of the Xinjiang deadly violence anniversary.

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Soldiers from the People's Liberation Army's China's State Border Detachment during military training in Hami city in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, May 30, 2011.

Security remained tight in some parts of the Chinese capital on Tuesday, a day after the sensitive anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen military crackdown, as authorities continued their clampdown on any attempt at public commemoration of those who died, local residents and security personnel said.

Meanwhile, authorities in the ethnically troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang began to implement tighter security measures ahead of the anniversary of deadly violence in July 2009, when ethnic tensions between Uyghurs and Han Chinese erupted into riots that left 200 people dead, according to the Chinese government’s tally.

Photos posted online in the early hours of Tuesday morning showed a number of attempts at Tiananmen memorial events, some solitary, others in small groups, wearing black and white clothing in mourning for those who died, and lighting candles.

An online rights website said petitioners from Shandong, Tianjin and Jilin provinces lit incense for the souls of the departed at an unknown location in Beijing, in spite of heightened security aimed at preventing such events.

Activists said police across China have detained a string of activists and petitioners and banned Internet posts relating to the politically sensitive anniversary, as well as forcing a number of prominent activists to go "on holiday" to locations outside their hometowns.

A Beijing-based petitioner surnamed Liu said a number of districts on the outskirts of Beijing were now under security lockdown.

"They have sealed off the villages the same way they did in Shoubaozhuang," Liu said, referring to a village that was previously walled off to outsiders in what officials called an experimental effort to curb crime.  

"Every village in Daxing district has metal barricades at the entrance to the village...and there are large numbers of those people wearing red armbands."

"There are middle-aged [security volunteers] and some in their sixties and seventies, men and women alike," he said.

A security guard in Beijing's Tongzhou district said the authorities had stepped up patrols around the anniversary of the June 4 crackdown. "It's June 4, but nothing much has happened," the guard said. "We have patrols going around the residential complexes every day, and emergency as well."

He said the number of people in each patrol varied. "It would depend on how many residents there are in the compounds," he said. "The main [security focus] is in the residential neighborhoods."

Petitioners in the capital with complaints against official wrongdoing back in their hometowns said police had detained some of their number on Friday.

"They went to the complaints Beijing and they gave [them] their documentary evidence," said a petitioner from Zhejiang whose wife was taken away. "The police asked them what they were doing, and when they said they were in Beijing to file a complaint...they took them to Jiujingzhuang."

"Then, the representatives from Lishui in Beijing came to pick them up and take them back to be detained in Qingtian," the petitioner said.


Meanwhile, in the Xinjiang region, authorities have revoked temporary residence permits to local people granting permission for people from remote rural areas to remain in the regional capital Urumqi, a government announcement said.

"From June 1, temporary residents permits will cease to be issued across the entire city," the government announced via the Xinjiangwang website.

Residents with a smart ID card containing their personal details on a chip would be allowed to remain in the city for up to 30 days, but would be forced to apply for a new temporary permit after that period, the government report said.

An Urumqi resident surnamed Zhang said authorities in the city were now gearing up for additional security ahead of the third anniversary of ethnic violence in early July.

"The community workers and security guards are already on the streets, and they have set up security tents in areas where there are large numbers of people," Zhang said. "[This will continue] until July 10 without a day's break."

"These are personnel charged with maintaining stability," he added. "All the shops have to take part in the Peaceful Businesses, Peaceful Families campaign."

"Over here, we have the Peaceful Communities, Peaceful Streets activities," Zhang said.

A police officer who answered the phone at the Nancaimen residential complex confirmed the measures.

"Yes, that's about right," he said, when asked to confirm the reports.

Official media say Beijing wants to turn Urumqi into an important exchange platform for leaders and businesses in China and its western and southern neighbors, including Russia, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan.

But some experts believe Beijing's rapid development of Xinjiang, which they say has created more opportunities for Han Chinese than for the local Uyghur population, is leading to additional ethnic tension in the region.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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