UN, US call for restraint in China

7th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Ban Ki-moon leads international calls for restraint Monday after 156 people die in riots in China's Xinjiang region.

Washington -- The United States and UN chief Ban Ki-moon led international calls for restraint Monday after unrest in China's restive Xinjiang region left at least 156 people dead.

The White House said it was "deeply concerned" about the reports of deaths in the western region's capital Urumqi.

"We call on all in Xinjiang to exercise restraint," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a brief statement issued in Moscow, where US President Barack Obama was on an official visit.

China said that at least 156 people were killed Sunday when Muslim Uighurs rioted in some of the deadliest ethnic unrest to hit the country in decades.

The violence in Urumqi on Sunday involved thousands of people and caused a security sweep across Xinjiang, where tension has built up amid Uighur claims of repressive Chinese rule.

US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said he expected the region's violence to be discussed in a meeting between Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and visiting Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei.

"I'm sure that we'll raise some of these concerns that we have about the violence in Xinjiang the last few days," Kelly said.

The UN secretary general said, "Wherever it is happening or has happened, the position of the United Nations and the secretary general has been consistent and clear: that all the differences of opinion, whether domestic or international, must be resolved peacefully through dialogue.

"Governments concerned must also exercise extreme care and take necessary measures to protect the life and safety of the civilian population and their citizens and their properties, and protect freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of information," he told a news conference in Geneva.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman said London was concerned about the violence.

"Of course we are concerned about the reports of violence and the scale of the loss of life and I think we would urge restraint on all sides and, where possible, for problems to be resolved through dialogue," the spokesman said.

The president of the European parliament, Hans Gert Poettering, called on Chinese authorities to respect human rights.

"The news which is emerging of how these protests have been handled is deeply disturbing," he said in a statement. "I appeal to all sides for calm and restraint."

"I explicitly appeal to the Chinese authorities to act in a manner that fully respects human dignity and fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration," he said.

"I also appeal to the Chinese authorities to allow local and international media to carry out their work in full freedom, including unrestricted access to the Internet," he added.

Protesters in The Hague converged at the Chinese embassy.

Dutch police said they detained about 60 people protesting outside the Chinese embassy in The Hague. Rocks and cobble stones were hurled over the walls around the building and several windows were broken.

About 200 people took part in the demonstration which was called by an association of Muslim Uighurs in the Netherlands.

They carried flags and banners reading "Chinese go back to China" and shouted "Terrorist China" when being transported by police cars and buses to the main police station.

Turkey called on China to punish those responsible for the violence in the Turkic-speaking region.

"We expect that those who triggered the incidents be determined at once and that they be brought to justice," a brief foreign ministry statement said.

Many Uighurs have sought refuge in Turkey, where some Islamist and nationalist groups support demands for an independent Uighur homeland, which they refer to as East Turkestan.

The troubles hit as President Hu Jintao started a visit to Italy ahead of the Group of Eight industrialised powers summit this week. Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano raised the issue of human rights during talks.

"We agreed that the... economic and social progress that is being achieved in China places new demands in terms of human rights," Napolitano said at a news conference with Hu.

AFP / Expatica

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