Terming recent violence as a ‘major tragedy’, UN Higher Commission for Human Rights has asked Chinese officials and ethnic groups in the Muslim region of Xinjiang to stay away from any further clashes.
Holding that demonstrators have right to protest peacefully, Navi Pillay said that those who were arrested following Sunday’s clashes should be treated in accordance with international law.
She said that a comprehensive, transparent probe must be conducted into the causes of Sunday’s rioting, asking the authorities to categorize the victims and establish exactly what happened to them so that the cycle of violence and vengeance could be stopped.
“I urge Uighur and Han civic leaders, and the Chinese authorities at all levels, to exercise great restraint so as not to spark further violence and loss of life,” Pillay said in a statement. “This is a major tragedy.”
In the meantime, police fired tear gas shells to dispel rock-pelting Han and Uighur protesters who fought in Xinjiang two days after ethnic violence that left 156 dead and over 1, 000 injured.
“This is an extraordinarily high number of people to be killed and injured in less than a day of rioting,” Pillay said.
Armed, angry Han Chinese, their number in thousands, surged through Urumqi looking for Uighur targets to take avenge for deaths in the rioting.
It should be noted that Pillay’s remarks expressing alarm at the high loss of life were the strongest yet by the world body. Her office does not have a presence in China, despite years of seeking permission.