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    Xinjiang Riots Anniversary: Continued Suppression of Uighurs

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    This week marks the anniversary of the 2009 Xinjiang riots, and Chinese authorities are tightening security in the region. Overseas rights groups say that authorities are continuing their supression of ethnic Uighurs. Here's more.

    Two years after riots broke out in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China and the atmosphere is still tense there.

    Xinjiang is home to the Uighur ethnic minority. On July 5th, 2009 Chinese security forces suppressed Uighur demonstrations in the capital of Urumqi. The Uighurs were calling for justice for factory workers killed in a fight with Han Chinese that June. The situation quickly turned into full-scale ethnic riots.

    A crackdown followed with many Uighurs being detained.

    [Sarah Cook, Asia Research Analyst, Freedom House]:
    "Some have been sentenced to very severe prison terms and even executed, and there are still a lot of people that we don't know where they are."

    The Internet in Xinjiang was shut down for almost a year after the protests, making it difficult to get information from the region.

    Amnesty International reported on the case of a Uighur journalist, Hairat Niyaz, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for speaking to foreign media about the 2009 protests.

    However, some reports about the situation have emerged in the run up to the anniversary.

    [Sarah Cook, Asia Research Analyst, Freedom House]:
    "There have been reports, also, of armored vehicles in the street and an intensified police presence in advance of the anniversary...there's a real sense that there's a close eye being kept on who's talking to who, what people are doing."

    Uighurs living abroad have also been suppressed. The website of the World Uyghur Congress has been subject to cyber-attacks over the past week and is still offline.