Enforcing Law in Xinjiang

Source: Peopel's Daily Online [22:05 September 08 2009]

The latest eruption of tumult in Urumqi, China's northwest Xinjiang region, is unfortunate. The pain and psychological jitters, caused by the deadly "July 5" rampage that left up to 200 killed and more than 1,500 injured, haven't healed yet, but are now renewed and exacerbated by the vicious syringe attacks on innocent residents there.

The sacking of two prominent regional officials by the Central Government, Party chief of Urumqi city Li Zhi and Xinjiang regional police head Liu Yaohua, will soothe the anger of locals, who are increasingly annoyed and also feel alienated by the authorities doing a poor job in maintaining security and ensuring tranquillity.

The discontent of 2 million Urumqi residents with the local government is not unfounded. Its inadequate response to the latest syringe attack, and lowered alertness to prevent new assaults have led many to question the responsibility and competitiveness of the government there. And, it is frustrating to note that the legal apparatus there has not prosecuted the rampage penetrators promptly.

The carnage on July 5 of mostly ethnic Han people was choreographed by anti-China forces in and outside the country, and was by all accounts a terrorist attack on China. Although it was clamped down quickly, and many attackers have been captivated now, it would be naive to believe that this nation's enemies would be penitent about the loss of lives at their hands, and put down their weapons. The terrorists are desperate to launch new assaults to create chaos in Xinjiang in their hope to harm the country.

Incomplete figures released by the government said that up to 500 residents, predominantly Han people, have been targeted in the syringe attacks. A top Urumqi prosecutor briefed reporters that among the 21 suspects having been put in custody, all of them are Uygurs. Two jabbed a taxi driver with a heroin-filled syringe, another stabbed a fruit peddler.

The spate of assaults involving hypodermic needles containing harmful substances once again intensified the nerve of a city, which found itself hard to recover from the merciless bloodletting two months ago. The attack with poisoned syringes is malicious and surreptitious that has produced maximum fear, and driven the residents to the edge.

To fight terrorism and enemies hidden in the dark, it is imperative to acquire the means and set up efficient intelligence channels to get to know the whereabouts of the adversaries, and their plans. Lack of intelligence has blinded the police force and made the public vulnerable to sudden assaults. Now it's time to increase investment and personnel enrolment.

And, it is equally important to bring the law-breakers who killed innocent residents on July 5 to the justice, now. Any delay in prosecution and law enforcement will invite second guessing about the authorities' mandate. It is universally known that after one breaches the law, he or she must see the force of the law.

Top police officer Meng Jianzhu said that Xinjiang faced a struggle between separatism and anti-separatism, between wrecking ethnic unity and protecting ethnic unity. The struggle won't be won until all the terrorists and extremists are caught and brought to the law, and an ethnic reconciliation starts from that.