Protests = Bloody Battles?
By: Cassandra Ly, Grade 11
When was the last time it was known to everyone that protesting, a simple display of civil disobedience, has transformed into something disastrous and even deadly? Recently, there have been many of these so-called “peaceful” protests occurring in China. This is in regard to many issues including employment, safety, and security demands in different aspects of the Chinese society. These dangerous protests have occurred in the city of Urumqi, Xinjiang; starting off as a crowd of citizens demanding change to the public health system to having paramilitary policemen being brought in.
So, what is the reason for this hysteria? In early September, many incidents of syringe stabbings were reported in the city of Urumqi. Approximately 600 citizens became victims of these arbitrary stabbings, and fortunately only 100 cases “showed any sign of injury.” Innocent people have been targeted on crowded buses and other well-populated areas in the city. Due to the dangers of these “hypodermic syringe needles”, many parents have been very concerned about the safety of their children at school, especially since the H1N1 flu and many other diseases are infecting more and more people.
Appalled by their public health and safety system, Han Chinese began to protest on the 3rd of September. Wang Lequan, the regional party secretary, was pressured to resign from his position when he failed to provide a public safety system. What has become of our world to have such people in our society to be pulling off such dangerous and outrageous deeds? 10,000 citizens marched on the streets in demand of “better security”; however, 14 people were wounded and 5 lost their lives. The two-day protest was recognized as an illegal march and demonstrated disrespectful actions on the streets of Urumqi. Tear gas and other methods of dispersing crowds were used, along with blocking roads and other transportation routes around the city. Due to investigations, Chinese police have arrested approximately 15 people who were caught red-handed. The convicted were sentenced to prison for up to 15 years.
However, thinking about these dangerous occurrences, is it really due to just the poor safety conditions earlier this month? Some Han Chinese have still been shaken up and enraged by the earlier riots in July, involving the Muslim Uighurs, and are pleading for punishment to those who had started it. Xinjiang is Uighur’s main homeland and they despite the fact that millions of Han Chinese have migrated to the region, have no more tolerance. Uighurs attacked Han Chinese, resulting in a large-scale retaliation by the victims. 140 were killed along with 800 injured citizens were found in the city of Urumqi.
Now we ask: who were the ones that were really being violent? Reports stated that protestors, in general, carried knives, bricks, and batons around the city, destroying property and even smashing cars and buses. Is violence the only outcome to protests nowadays? No doubt that these they have truly become “bloody battles,” but they can be prevented and stopped completely. Violence never has and never will be the answer. Be aware of society’s public health and safety system. Question and support the non-violent concept of “civil disobedience”; if that’s taken away from us, what else can we do to voice what we really need? If not us,, than who else? It takes one determined individual to spread that idea, make it into something great, and provide chances for you and everyone else to stand up for what is right.