That violence began as Uighurs protested the deaths of Uighur factory workers in southern China and then clashed with police. The crowd scattered throughout the city, attacking Han Chinese, overturning and burning vehicles and torching shops. Nearly 200 people, mostly Hans, were killed, according to the government. Two days later, Uighurs suffered revenge attacks.
On his Web site, Tohti posted a letter yesterday addressed to China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, and China’s Cabinet, the State Council, in which he compiled a list of 34 Uighurs who remain missing after authorities launched an expansive crackdown in response to the 2009 riots. He said the authorities’ persistent lack of accountability over the crackdown has fueled hatred toward the government.
China defends its treatment of minorities, saying all ethnic groups are treated equally and that tens of billions of dollars in investment and aid have dramatically raised their living standards.