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Beijing Review Exclusive
Special> Focus on Xinjiang> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: July 10, 2009 Web Exclusive
A Helping Hand
Love goes beyond ethnic groups in the unrest

Zhao Mindong, 33, an ethnic Han teacher from Nanhui Middle School in east China's Shanghai Municipality, and his wife managed to escape from the deadly unrest of July 5 in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, thanks to the help of local ethnic Uygur people.

Zhao came to Urumqi to escort more than 300 ethnic Uygur students in his school back home for summer vacation. At 8 p.m. on July 5, having finished the escort mission, the Zhao couple intended to go to the International Bazaar in downtown Urumqi by taxi.

"Our cab was attacked by a mob on Tuanjie Street, which was only a block away from our destination. Seven or eight people smashed all the windows soon after the ethnic Uygur driver told us to raise them up," Zhao recalled.

"The driver, who tried to protect us, stepped out of the cab to chat with the mob. But they answered him with fists," Zhao said. "The others beat me up with spiked wooden sticks."

Zhao and his wife fell down on the street after being beaten for more than 30 seconds. An ethnic Uygur woman rushed to the bleeding couple and pulled them out of the crowd.

"Another mob ran to follow us as we escaped to the street corner. Fortunately, we managed to hide in a tiny lane which was not far away," Zhao said. "I saw several ethnic Han people already hidden there. Some ethnic Uygur women quietly showed us the way to hide."

The Zhao couple reached a residential complex with their guidance. A young ethnic Uygur couple asked Zhao a question in the Uygur language, which he could not understand.

"I called my Uygur student in Xinjiang to speak to the couple, and then we, together with two other ethnic Han women, were taken to their home," Zhao continued.

Soon after that, the ethnic Uygur couple contacted related departments and sent the Zhao couple to the hospital.

"We are blessed to get so much help from strangers in the unrest," Zhao said. "Warm-hearted people are everywhere."

(Source: The Beijing News, translated by CHEN RAN)

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