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Western China: The Internet is restored, but repression continues

The president of the World Uighur Congress calls on China's government to end policies of repression against Uighurs in Western China.

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On May 14, residents of East Turkestan rediscovered the Internet – not the Internet of unfettered access that is enjoyed the world over. But a lifting of the most draconian Internet restrictions ever seen so that people could finally access China's censored version.

For 10 months, starting from the July 2009 unrest in Urumchi, the Chinese government kept the people of East Turkestan isolated from the rest of the world with a comprehensive communications lockdown that not only blocked the Internet, but also affected telecommunications. During those 10 months, a great deal of information about the events of July 2009 was never allowed to surface, and the world was left with a Chinese government account that in no way can be considered impartial.

The communications lockdown was an illustration of the chilling ideology of power that guides the decisions of power brokers in the Chinese Communist Party. In those 10 months, the Chinese government conducted a brutal crackdown on Uighurs largely unseen by the outside world.

The "stable conditions" required to restore the Internet were established through indiscriminate detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, sham trials, and swift executions of Uighurs. Human Rights Watch described the 43 enforced disappearances it recorded in a report, "We Are Afraid to Even Look for Them," as the tip of the iceberg.

In addition, the reports that managed to leak out of torture and death of Uighurs in custody, such as that of Shohret Tursun, only hint at the depth of repression that happened during those 10 months.

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