Anthromuse has been doing her dissertation in the Uyghur region of China, where violent clashes with the government persist.
Right after the first protests, a close friend in Urumqi called me via Skype, knowing that access would be cut off any minute. He just had enough time to assure me that he’s okay. Cell phone service is erratic. A foreign journalist told me that landlines are still working, but I haven’t been able to get through. Just a whole lot of busy signals.
My friend Nicole suggested following melissakchan’s twitter. Melissa, a correspondent for Al-Jazeera, tweets:
The city is now under martial law.
A Han Chinese man with a stick just tore open our car door to beat our producer. Averted just in time.
There is no right or wrong anymore. Just vigilantes, Han and Uighur. Mostly men but some women and even children.
As with any conflict, the situation is complex. I won’t go through all of the aspects – cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious, social, economic…You get the idea. And, as with any majority/minority issue, there are stereotypes and misunderstanding on both sides. (If you are interested in the fuller story, I am still looking for volunteers to read my dissertation draft.) In my view, the most unfortunate blind spot is historical. A mark of modernity seems to be that our gaze is so fixed on the future that we don’t have time to look systematically at the past. More on how this distorts views after I get some sleep.