Uighur Students Demonstrate In Xinjiang
PEKING (AP) _ Hundreds of ethnic minority students in the northwestern Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region demonstrated last month against nuclear testing in the area, a Chinese official said Thursday.
An official in the regional government office in Xinjiang, who identified himself only as Mr. Ku, said about 2,000 students took part in the demonstration in the regional capital of Urumqi on Dec. 9.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, the official said student demonstrators ″asked about the possibility of pollution caused by the nuclear tests in Xinjiang.″
He said students also demanded that education for minorities be improved, and a few questioned government family planning policies.
Xinjiang contains the Lop Nur testing ground where China exploded its first atomic bomb in 1964.
The region is heavily populated by Uighur Moslems, Kazakhs, Huis and other minority groups and has a history of discontent under Chinese rule.
″The march lasted about two to three hours, and then dispersed after patient persuasions by the (Communist) Party and government leading comrades who explained to the students that nuclear tests in Xinjiang didn’t have any harmful effects on the people,″ the official said.
There had been reports of similar protests last month by Uighurs in Xinjiang, Peking, and Shanghai.
A caller to a western news agency said last month that there was a protest Dec. 12 in Urumqi, followed by other protests in the region.
The State Nationalities Affairs Commission in Peking, which is in charge of China’s minorities, said they knew nothing about a Dec. 9 protest or about protesters’ demands.
The Foreign Ministry, when asked about the protests, said it would take the question and answer it later.
The Foreign Ministry said earlier in response to a Uighur student protest in Peking’s Tiananmen Square on Dec. 22 that repeated surveys have found the nuclear testing does not harm the health of people in Xinjiang.