The authorities of China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region have issued a notification banning all public demonstrations with immediate effect. Anyone, who holds or organises a public demonstration without the prior permission of the authorities or participates in such a demonstration will be liable to be arrested and prosecuted. The notification says: "In case of violations, the public security department will disperse those gathered, and detain those who disobey the order."
Zhang Hong, the Deputy Mayor of Urumqi, held a press conference on September 4, 2009, to give details of the situation. From the details given by him, it appeared that the five persons, whose deaths were reported earlier, had died during the demonstrations on September 3 and not due to the syringe attacks. He did not clarify whether the deaths occurred due to the People's Armed Police opening fire on the demonstrators. However, he said that of the five who died, two were found to be innocent. There have been unconfirmed reports that some Uighurs, whom Han mobs suspected to be needle-stabbers, had died due to lynching.
The following are some of the details given at the press conference:
- On September 4, the situation was basically under control in the city. Small crowds gathered "in a few locations" , but soon dispersed and nobody was killed.
- Syringe attacks have resulted in panic and resentment from the public. Suspects were caught on September 2 when attacking members of the public. They were beaten by an angry crowd and one was seriously injured
- Five people have been confirmed dead and 14 others injured and hospitalised following the protests of September 3. Of the five dead, two had been confirmed as innocent civilians, while police are trying to identify the remaining three.
- Investigations showed those carrying out the syringe attacks were from the Uighur ethnic group while the attacked included Han Chinese and other ethnic groups. By September 3, local hospitals had dealt with 531 victims of hypodermic syringe stabbings, 106 of whom showed obvious signs of needle attacks. The attacks were premeditated and organized to create terror in society.
- "The 'three forces' (separatism, terrorism and extremism) at home and abroad are not willing to see ethnic unity and their failure when the July 5 violence died down quickly. So they are using 'soft violence' to disrupt social order and instigate ethnic hatred."
The Government-controlled Xinhua news agency disseminated the following report at 10 PM Beijing time on September 4:
"According to the directive of superiors, a quarantine experts team from the PLA Military Academy of Medical Sciences arrived at Urumqi by air on the evening of September 3, to join local authorities in the examination and identification of the injuries by syringe attacks on some of the local people."
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies