The Chinese government has been warning of a new enemy in Xinjiang, Reuters’ Ben Blanchard reported Sunday. Hizb ut-Tahrir, also known as the Islamic Liberation Party, is accused by the government of being a “violent terrorist organization” fostering unrest among the 8 million Uighurs living in Xinjiang. “Strike hard against the Islamic Liberation Party” read signs throughout the city of Kashgar, written in Chinese and Uighur’s Arabic-based script. Hizb ut-Tahrir and other observers accuse the Chinese government of magnifying the threat as an excuse to further crack down in Xinjiang a month before the Beijing Olympics. The government claims to have handled several Uighur terrorist groups this year, including a plot to sabotage a Chinese passenger jet in March. In April the government raised accusations against Hizb ut-Tahrir of posting reactionary leaflets and calling for people to demonstrate in Urumqi, Hotan, Kashgar, and Kizilsu Kyrghiz Autonomous Prefecture.
According to Blanchard, many remain unconvinced that Hizb ut-Tahrir is the threat the Chinese government says it is in Xinjiang. A media representative from Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain maintains that the party advocates non-violence. Moreover, the goal of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s members is a worldwide Caliphate, while most Uighurs in Xinjiang only want independence from China.
“What we want is simple– freedom,” said a Uighur resident of Xinjiang’s regional capital, Urumqi, who asked not be identified, fearing repercussions with the authorities. “But there are too many Han and too few of us.”
Photo by trelewis.