Pain lingering for people of Xinjiang

By Cui Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2014-03-12 07:28

More than 10 days after the terrorist attack in Kunming, Yunnan province, the pain still lingers - a pain familiar to people from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which is on the front lines of China's anti-terrorism battle and home of people from different ethnic groups including Uygur, Han, Kazak, Tajik and so many others.

The violent knife attack, which left 29 people dead and more than 140 others injured on March 1, was carried out by five members of an eight-member terrorist cell led by Abudulreyim Kurban. Local police said the attackers are separatists from Xinjiang.

No one knows how hurtful it is until the needle stings your own skin. As a reporter, I visited terrorist crime scenes in Xinjiang last year, and I could see that with every violent attack, another scar was added to the hearts of the people there.

Party chief Zhang Chun-xian told the Xinjiang delegation at the National People's Congress that while the Kunming incident is deeply discomforting, terrorism is not an ethnic, religious or regional issue.

He asked the deputies of the delegation to hold their heads up high and let others know what Xinjiang and its people are really like.

Security around China was stepped up after the attack, and some cities have focused on people from Xinjiang.

Mutalif Wubuli, an NPC deputy and commissioner of Kashgar prefecture in Xinjiang, said he understands the security measures but he hopes authorities will consider the "feelings of the Xinjiang people".

Pain lingering for people of Xinjiang

One of my friends from Xinjiang said it is painful to hear people say they will be extra careful about people from Xinjiang or even that they are afraid of going to a Xinjiang restaurant since the knife attack.

"Isn't that what the separatists want to achieve? At a time like this, what people should do is unite around the honest, kind people of Xinjiang. Let them feel fully respected, or maybe just give them a warm smile instead of making them feel unwelcome and misunderstood," she said.

I cannot remember how many times my friends from Xinjiang have told me that if your ID card number begins with 65, as theirs do, you will be singled out for longer and stricter inspections by airport security personnel, or find that a hotel, which moments ago had plenty of vacant rooms, becomes full as soon as the receptionist sees your card.

Authorities should avoid administrative methods and attitudes that may cause misunderstanding between different ethnic groups, Ye Youda, a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said.

"The sad thing is we are used to it now. No one hates the terrorists like Xinjiang people do because we are the biggest victims. They are not one of us," another friend of mine said.

He added that if the Kunming attack happened in Xinjiang, people would fight the terrorists together, just as people did when hijackers attempted to take over Flight GS7554 in June 2012. "We won't let them win."

Six people tried to take control of a narrow-bodied Embraer ERJ-190 jet shortly after takeoff from Hotan. The flight was bound for Urumqi, the capital of the region. The attempt failed after passengers and crew realized what was happening and fought back.

"We will build a 'wall of bronze and iron' for ethnic unity, social stability and national unity," President Xi Jinping said at the second session of the CPPCC on March 4.

That clear vision can only be achieved through understanding and respect.