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Chinese Uighur dissident blames Beijing for Xinjiang unrest

world Updated: Jul 06, 2009 20:11 IST
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Chinese dissident Wu'er Kaixi, a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and a member of the ethnic Uighur minority, on Monday blamed Beijing for the deadly unrest in the restive Xinjiang region.

Wu'er Kaixi, who lives in exile in Taiwan, said China's "barbarian policies" had led to the decades-long suppression of the Muslim Uighurs, who rioted at the weekend in the regional capital Urumqi. At least 140 people were killed.

"The long-standing iron-grip of the Han people imposed on the minority eventually led to the protests of Uighurs," he said in a statement on his blog.

"The Chinese government's hegemony mentality and its barbarian policies are to blame for the injustice in Xinjiang." The violence in Urumqi on Sunday involved thousands of people, and triggered an enormous security crackdown across Xinjiang where tensions have long simmered amid Uighur claims of repressive Chinese rule.

It was some of the deadliest ethnic unrest seen in China in decades.

Wu'er Kaixi was number two on the Chinese government's "most-wanted" list of protesters following the military's crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy demonstrations, which left hundreds, possibly thousands, dead. Wu'er Kaixi, who fled China shortly thereafter, now works as a businessman in Taiwan.

He flew from Taipei to Macau on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown in a bid to return to the mainland, in what he called a "gentle challenge" to Beijing. He was later sent back to Taiwan.