Gatherings Banned in Urumqi, Uighur Supporters Rally in Tokyo

In perhaps the first instance of its kind in recent times, hundreds of supporters walked through Tokyo and raised slogans expressing solidarity with China’s ethnic minority Uighurs on Sunday. Even as Chinese authorities banned public assembly in the Urumqi city to desist community members from gathering for traditional mourning.

Some 50 Uighur expatriates and hundreds of their Japanese supporters marched through the capital, chanting: “China stop genocide! Free Uighur!”

“The Chinese authorities have announced that a majority of the victims of the violence last Sunday were Han Chinese, even though (we heard that) the Chinese police indiscriminately shot gunfire at demonstrators.” Ilham Mahmut, president of the Japan Uighur Association, was quoted as saying by the French News Agency AFP.

Chinese state media says 184 people died, most of them Han, in the unrest on Sunday in Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi.

The demonstrators distributed copies of an “open letter” to Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The letter called on China to stop its anti-Uighur propaganda and said that suppressing the truth would only amount “exacerbating the longstanding grievances of the Uighur people.”

Uighurs indulged in violence and attacked Han Chinese last Sunday, say foreign media correspondents citing witnesses and victims that they interacted with.

Uighur leaders in exile, however, insist that the protests were peaceful until security forces over-reacted with deadly force.

Residents in Urumqi city were banned from gathering in public places on Sunday for a traditional day of mourning.

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