|Al Jazeera, July 29, 2009
Police in Kyrgyzstan have dispersed a protest against alleged fraud in the country’s presidential election, reportedly detaining nearly all of the about 200 protesters.
The authorities quickly intercepted demonstrators on Wednesday as they attempted to march through Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital.
There were said to be two or three officers, some dressed in plain clothes, for each demonstrator.
The protesters had been shouting slogans such as “Return the stolen power!” and were about to march on the presidential palace in the centre of Bishkek.
Some protesters scuffled with police.
“They [the protesters] broke public security rules,” Gulya Kozhokulova, a district prosecutor, said. “Police acted in line with the law.”
The demonstrators were supporters of Almazbek Atambayev, the main opposition candidate in last Thursday’s election, who denounced the vote as “illegitimate” citing widespread fraud.
The election was won by Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the incumbent president, with 76.43 per cent of the vote compared to 8.39 per cent for Atambayev, according to the official results.
Election monitors described the vote as a ”disappointment” and said it had failed to meet international standards.
Bakiyev was first elected in 2005, in a poll seen as free and fair by Western observers.
But since then he has been accused by the opposition of becoming increasingly repressive and a string of mysterious attacks on politicians and journalists in the run-up to the election raised concerns.
The opposition has said it will state more protests across the country ahead of an informal summit of a Russia-dominated security bloc to be held on Friday.
They have threatened to block roads in the resort in east Kyrgyzstan where the meeting is due to take place.
Posts Tagged ‘repression’
“Repression of the Uighurs has been widely documented for decades. Amnesty International has accused the Chinese government repeatedly of arbitrarily detaining thousands of Uighurs who were at serious risk of torture or ill treatment. It also condemned China for what it called “an assault on Uighur culture as a whole”- closing mosques, restricting the use of the Uighur language, and burning Uighur books and journals.”
“The total of all the Muslims killed in the 17th to the 19th centuries was about 12,000,000. This was the greatest racial genocide in Chinese history.”
“History reveals that the Han hatred of the Muslims, the short-sightedness of the Ch’ing rulers in their anti-Muslim policy and the narrow-mindedness of the Ch’ing Muslims in building their own kingdoms within China were responsible for the death of 12,000,000 Muslims and of an equal or larger number of Han Chinese. In addition, millions of acres of farmland became scorched earth and the Ch’ing treasury was depleted in financing wars. It ultimately led to the humiliation of the corrupt Ch’ing government by the Western powers and eventually to its downfall in 1911.”
– H. Y. Chang 
Last week, China’s president cut short his G8 summit trip to rush home after ethnic tensions in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang left at least 156 dead. A group of Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, were holding a peaceful demonstration to demand a government inquiry into an earlier violent conflict with members of the country’s dominant Han ethnic group.
The deaths took place as government security forces clamped down on the Uighurs who make up the region’s largest ethnic group.
China has more than 50 ethnic minorities, totaling about 100 million, or eight per cent of China’s 1.3 billion people. There are 2.3 million Uighurs in Xinjiang (also called East Turkistan).
When state repression of minorities occurs, Tibet immediately comes to mind, but China’s measures taken against the Uighurs have been far more severe. Unlike the Tibetans, nobody seems to notice or care.
U.S. President Barack Obama has not say a word about the right of the Uighurs to demonstrate or demanded that the Chinese government respect that right.
Repression of the Uighurs has been widely documented for decades. Amnesty International has accused the Chinese government repeatedly of arbitrarily detaining thousands of Uighurs who were at serious risk of torture or ill treatment. It also condemned China for what it called “an assault on Uighur culture as a whole”- closing mosques, restricting the use of the Uighur language, and burning Uighur books and journals.
“Very appalling forms of torture have been recorded in Xinjiang, which as far as we know have never been occurring elsewhere in China,” reported Amnesty International.
The Chinese government has also been conducting cultural cleansing by moving a huge number of Han to Xinjiang. Uighurs complain that these Chinese immigrants enjoy the benefits of the economical development in their oil-rich province.
After 9/11, the Chinese government linked religion and separatism to terrorism and described the Uighur separatists as terrorists. It succeeded in getting one Uighur organization, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, placed on the United Nations’ list of international terrorist organizations. Four Uighurs captured in Afghanistan were incarcerated at Guantánamo for years before being dumped in Albania because no other country would provide them asylum.
Uighurs who have relatives abroad are being put under pressure to stop them from getting involved in any kind of political activity.
The Chinese government has blamed the recent unrest on Rebiya Kadeer, president of the Uigur American Association. She says that the Uighur Muslims have no freedom to practice their religion. The government has accused her of working to “split” China. (China claims control of Xinjiang, and Tibet, based on the fact these regions were once controlled by Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, who ruled most of China in the 13th century.)
Uighurs, like Tibetans, face open discrimination in the booming cities of China’s east and south, an issue highlighted by the beating to death of at least two Uighurs at a toy factory last month in the southern city of Shaoguan.
A mob of hundreds of Han Chinese attacked the workers following rumors that Uighurs raped two local women. “This incident could have been avoided if the Chinese authorities had properly investigated the Shaoguan killings,” said Kadeer.
She sees strong parallels between the unrest in Xinjiang and Tibet, including China’s demonization of minority groups advocating greater autonomy or independence.
She expressed her disappointment at the lack of condemnation of China’s recent crackdown. “For the most part, we are on our own,” she said.
. The Hui (Muslim) minority in China: an historical overview
by H. Y. Chang, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 1469-9591, Volume 8, Issue 1, 1987, Pages 62 – 78
Looking East: The Challenges and Opportunities of Chinese Islam
by Ridwan Khan, Haider Shamsi Award for Islamic Studies (HSAIS)
Jewel of Chinese Muslim’s Heritage
by Mohammed Khamouch, Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC)
Zheng He – the Chinese Muslim Admiral
by Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC)
The plight of the Uighurs: China’s Muslims suffering as much as the Tibetans
by Fahad Ansari
Religion and Ethics – Islam in China (650-present)
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
China’s Fearful Muslim Minority
by Ash Lucy, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Related / External Link (s):
by courtesy & © 2009 Mohamed Elmasry
| Al Jazeera, June 21, 2009
Riot police in Iran have used tear gas, water cannon and batons to disperse about 3,000 people attempting to protest over the disputed presidential election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president.
Witnesses said that dozens of people were hospitalised after being beaten by police and pro-government militia in the capital, Tehran, on Saturday.
“Lots of guards on motorbikes closed in on us and beat us brutally,” one protester said.
“As we were running away the Basiji [militia] were waiting in side alleys with batons, but people opened their doors to us trapped in alleys.”
Supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, a defeated reformist candidate, had planned to stage a rally in the city’s Revolutionary Square, but arrived to find their way blocked by police.
A witness told Al Jazeera that police were turning people away.
“The roads were pretty much blocked by the militia, they were out with retractable metal batons. It looked like they were very frantically trying to keep people from the area,” he said.
Amateur video of Saturday’s protests, which could not be independently verified, showed dozens of Iranians running down a street after police fired tear gas.
Other footage showed protesters trying to give first aid to a badly injured woman in the street.
The protesters apparently threw stones at the police and set fires in the streets.
Al Jazeera’s Alireza Ronaghi, reporting from Tehran, said that the protests had largely been quelled by Saturday evening.
“The presence of security forces were very high, they definitely wanted to take back the streets of Tehran … right now I don’t expect that many protesters are concentrated anywhere in Tehran,” he said.
He said that state television had quoted the head of Iran’s police force as thanking the Iranian people for not taking to the streets and taking the police warnings seriously.
As the clashes took place, a suspected suicide bomber blew himself up outside the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution in 1979, injuring at least two people, local news agencies reported.
As night fell, the protesters kept up their show of defiance shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) from the rooftops, a deliberate echo of a move made during the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Barack Obama, the US president, condemned the violence and urged Tehran to allow Mousavi’s supporters to stage peaceful protests.
“The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching,” he said.
“We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.”
Nick Spicer, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Washington DC, said: “It’s his [Obama] strongest language to date.
“He’s putting the blame for the violence squarely on the Iranian government saying that the world is watching what is going on in Iran, not just that the United States is watching
“Basically he is calling the whole world as a witness to what’s going on in Iran.
“He’s trying to make this not an Iran-America thing, but a global human rights argument that he’s putting to the leaders of Iran.”
‘Ready for martyrdom’
In a statement posted on the website of his Kalemeh newspaper, Mousavi repeated his demand for the elections results to be annulled and hit out at a speech by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.
“If this huge volume of cheating and changing the votes … which has hurt people’s trust, is presented as the very evidence of the lack of cheating, then it will butcher the republican aspect of the system and the idea that Islam is incompatible with a republic will be proven,” he said.
Anoushka Marashlian, an independent Middle East analyst, told Al Jazeera: “I think the momentum would be very difficult to maintain now because of the nature of the protests that have become more violent.
“They are not only defying the results of the elections but they are now perceived to be defying the directions of the supreme leader, and so, in essence, questioning the foundation of the Islamic Republic,” she said.
In a sermon on Friday, Khamenei ruled out any fraud in the June 12 vote and stressed there could be no doubting the re-election of Ahmadinejad.
An unnamed ally of Mousavi told the Reuters news agency that the former prime minister has said he would continue his fight and was “ready for martyrdom”.
Earlier on Saturday, Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, another defeated presidential candidate had declined to meet the Guardian Council, Iran’s highest legislative body, concerning 646 complaints of voting irregularities in the poll.
State television quoted a council spokesman as saying that the Guardian Council had expressed its readiness to “randomly” recount up to 10 per cent of the ballots.
The contested result gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a tally of about 63 per cent, to Mousavi’s 34 per cent.
Stephen Zunes | Foreign Policy In Focus, June 8, 2009
President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo to the Muslim world marked a welcome departure from the Bush administration’s confrontational approach. Yet many Arabs and Muslims have expressed frustration that he failed to use this opportunity to call on the autocratic Saudi and Egyptian leaders with whom he had visited on his Middle Eastern trip to end their repression and open up their corrupt and tightly controlled political systems.
Imagine the positive reaction Obama would have received throughout the Arab and Islamic world if, instead of simply expressing eloquent but vague words in support of freedom and democracy, he had said something like this:
“Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.”
Could he have said such a thing?
Yes. In fact, those were his exact words when, as an Illinois state senator, he gave a speech at a major anti-war rally in Chicago on October 2, 2002.
It is about time that New Delhi stopped treating the crisis in Kashmir as a law and order issue and began to address the many genuine grievances that Kashmiris have against Indian rule in the Valley. A two-day curfew, the arrest of key Kashmiri leaders and the deployment of thousands of soldiers and other security personnel may have put paid to plans of holding a massive freedom rally in Srinagar on Monday, but this triumph is bound to prove short-lived for the administration. So long as state repression continues and India keeps up its present troop levels in the territory, it is unlikely that the protests, which have been continuing since June, will die down. The protests were originally linked to the disputed allotment of several hectares of land for accommodating Hindu pilgrims. But these massive demonstrations have now come to reflect the general resentment that the Valley’s largely Muslim population harbours towards the Indian authorities. Equally disturbing are the communal overtones that these protests have acquired.
India must recognise that it is a popular uprising and not a Pakistan-backed insurgency that it is dealing with in Kashmir. It can no longer point the finger of blame at Islamabad. The situation today is completely different from the events of yesteryear, when the popular Kashmiri revolt of 1989 was virtually hijacked by extremists who sought to give the struggle a religious hue. India, instead of cashing in on a period of relative peace in Kashmir following Islamabad’s about-turn on certain security polices post-9/11, has done little to assuage the political and economic woes of the Kashmiris or repeal the draconian laws that govern their lives. Nor has there been feasible progress on finding a solution along with Pakistani and Kashmiri leaders to a festering territorial dispute.
Whether New Delhi likes it or not, the Kashmir question is becoming internationalised more than ever before. With Pakistan safely on the sidelines, the pressure is mounting on the Indian authorities to deal with issues that are leading to anger and may be a factor in India’s home-grown militancy. However, coming down with a heavy hand on the freedom of assembly and speech in Kashmir can hardly be effective. It will breed greater resentment besides making India’s democratic credentials suspect in the eyes of the world community. A well-defined political solution, acceptable to the Kashmiris, is the need of the hour if further alienation of the Valley’s inhabitants is to be prevented.
[Editorial note-Dawn-October 8, 2008]