HONG KONG—Authorities at a top university in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong are in talks with police over the alleged beating of several ethnic minority Ugyhur students, two of whom were seriously injured, officials and school employees said.
"After they recovered, the students wrote a letter to the school demanding that the authorities speak to the police about what happened," an official in the student affairs department of the University of Petroleum's East China campus in Dongying, near Qingdao, said.
"As requested in this letter, the school is talking to the police ... The school is on the students’ side, because the students are the children of the school," the official, identified as Munewer, said.
"We do not have a final result yet. So I cannot tell you any details," he added.
According to an account of the incident posted online, the police asked a group of students for their identification in a shop before dragging them outside and beating them in the street.
Identification cards in China routinely display information about the holder's ethnicity.
"They dragged us by our hair and took us outside the store," the account said. "Many Han Chinese onlookers gathered around us to watch. There were five of us being beaten by 15 police officers. We saw seven police beating ... one of the smallest ones among us."
Suspicion of stealing
Another Uyghur student at the university said the police apparently suspected the students of being pickpockets.
"I do not for sure, but they said so," the student, Sherin'ay, said.
"The police beat them at the store, and then took them to the police station. One of them fled to the outside and the police captured him there and started beating him again. Many Chinese people gathered around, wondering aloud if they were pickpockets."
"They were all injured. No sooner were they taken to the police station then they were told that they were free to go," he added.
The students were sent to hospital at the school's expense to have their injuries checked, officials said.
"At the moment, the beaten students are hospitalized," Iptihar, chairman of the Ethnic Minority Students' Autonomous Association at the university, said.
"The school and the police are taking care of the medical bill. The school’s position is that they will try to resolve whatever demands the students might have," he said.
Talks between school, police
"I participated in the talks with police on the beaten students issue. It is inconvenient for me to speak about the talks here," Iptihar said.
A police officer who answered the phone at the Changjiang Road police station said the officer in charge of the case was no longer in the office.
A second officer in the same police station denied the incident had taken place.
According to the most recent annual report by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), China’s "strike hard" campaigns have resulted in high rates of incarceration among Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Statistics from official Chinese sources indicate that cases of "endangering state security" from the region account for a significant percentage of the nationwide total, in some years possibly comprising most of the cases in China.
In August 2008, Chinese media reported that Xinjiang courts would "regard ensuring [state] security and social stability [as] their primary task," the CECC reported.
The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking minority group that formed two short-lived East Turkestan republics in the 1930s and 40s during the Chinese civil war and the Japanese invasion.
In its 2008 report on human rights worldwide, New York-based Human Rights Watch cited "drastic controls over religious, cultural, and political expression" by Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Original reporting in Uyghur by Jilil Musa. Uyghur service director: Dolkun Kamberi. Translated by Jüme and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.