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Beijing Review Exclusive
Special> Focus on Xinjiang> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: July 13, 2009 NO. 28 JULY 16, 2009
A Timeline of the Violence
The riot in Xinjiang capital leaves horrible memories in the multiethnic city

HORRIBLE FLAMES: A car is set on fire by rioters on July 5 (XINHUA) 

The evening of July 5 was like any other in People's Square in downtown Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. People were out enjoying the night air, walking, singing and dancing.

At 8 p.m., though, the evening turned anything but normal. Rioters seemed to materialize out of thin air, smashing and burning buses, destroying roadside blockades, looting and randomly killing pedestrians. Residents in the square and its surroundings broke into a panic, screaming and running for safety.

The violence lead to the death of 156 people, including 129 males and 27 females, said Li Qi, Director of the Publicity Department of Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Another 1,103 were injured.

The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held a meeting on July 8 to discuss issues relating to the riot in Urumqi. General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Hu Jintao, who is also Chinese President, presided over the meeting.

A statement issued after the meeting says that stability in Xinjiang is the "most important and pressing task."

The deadly July 5 riot in Urumqi has "profound" political background, according to the statement, which also says that the government will "firmly crack down on serious crimes including assaults, vandalism, looting and arson" to maintain social stability and safeguard people's fundamental interests in Xinjiang.

"Instigators, organizers, culprits and violent criminals in the unrest shall be severely punished in accordance with the law," the statement says. "Those taking part in the riot due to provocation and deceit by separatists, should be given education."

Organized violent crime

Authorities said evidence suggested that the separatist World Uygur Congress masterminded the violence. The group, regional government officials said, has been instigating unrest via the Internet and calling on supporters "to be braver" and "to do something big." The group is led by Rebiya Kadeer, a former businesswoman in Xinjiang who was detained in 1999 on charges of harming national security. She was released on bail on March 17, 2005 and later went to the United States to seek medical treatment.

Police have obtained recordings of calls between overseas "East Turkistan" groups that have been engaged in activities to separate Xinjiang from China and their accomplices in China, a local officer said.

VIOLENT TRAUMA: A victim of the violence receives treatment in an Urumqi hospital on July 6 (SHA DATI) 

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