Security scratches wounds of riot in Xinjiang

08:40, July 06, 2010      

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A woman surnamed Wang places flowers on her brother Wang Lei's tomb in a graveyard in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Monday, July 5, 2010.(China Daily)

Wang Lei's 67-year-old father visited his son's grave on Monday, the first anniversary of the July 5 riot, which left 197 dead and some 1,700 injured.

Wang Lei, who was happily married with a daughter, was beaten to death on his way to work. He was 36.

His grave in the Martyr Memorial Park on the outskirts of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, was covered with flowers and burning incenses.

About 40 of Wang's relatives visited the cemetery on Sunday, a day before the anniversary of the riot, fearing blockages for security purposes on Monday.

But Wang's father couldn't help but visit his dead son on the day rioters, who the government says were overseas separatists, took his life away.

"I still cannot believe my son is dead before me. And it's equally hard to believe he died so horribly," he said as he watered the flowers next to Wang Lei's grave.

"They (the flowers) will keep him company," he mumbled.

He said he wished the government would hold a public memorial service on the anniversary of the riots, like the ones held after devastating earthquakes in China. "They (the victims of the riot) should be remembered, too."

Zhang Xiaojie, 26, and Xiong Rongjie, 53, are also buried in the same cemetery. They, too, were killed in the riot.

Wang senior said he knows both their families well because they share the same indescribable pain.

"Every time I come to see my son, I put some flowers on their graves too. I hope they can rest in peace. None of them deserved to die," he said.

Heavy security was visible across Urumqi on the anniversary of the unprecedented violence.

Armed police, some with helmets and shields, elbowed through Urumqi's crowded roadside restaurants, as security cameras monitored buses and taxis, and tourists were frisked.

The faces of patrolling police officers seemed to be the only reminding factor that exactly one year ago, the city was burning.

In the morning, traffic was busy on the city's main roads. Groups of senior citizens visited parks for their morning exercises as usual. The only difference was that on Monday, their bags were frisked.

"Business is alright. But it is no match to the time before the riot," said Millibal from Kashgar, a city in western Xinjiang, who sells scarves at a stand in the International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi.

In an Internet caf in central Urumqi, packed with some 100 customers on Monday evening, business went on like any other day. "We don't see any difference today," the owner surnamed Li said. "Most customers are here playing games or watching movies online."

"There's nothing different about today. I'll stay in the caf until midnight," Wang Lifeng, a 20-year-old student, said.

Xinjiang fully lifted the ban on Internet service on May 14 this year, after 10 months of limited access in the wake the riot.

In May, China also launched a package of favorable policies to help the region achieve lasting stability and what authorities have described as "leapfrog development".

Source: China Daily


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