Tue, July 07, 2009
China > Mainland

Locals hope for normal life after riot

2009-07-07 10:36:28 GMT2009-07-07 18:36:28 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

URUMQI: Some protesters continued to stage protests Tuesday morning in the capital city of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, while most locals hoped for a quick return to normal life.

At least 200 people took to the street in downtown Urumqi at around 10:30 am in coincidence with a visit by a group of international reporters.

Protesters shouted slogans just as nine busloads of journalists arrived at the Dawan Nanlu, where rioters set on fire rows of cars at a car dealer's shop of the Xinjiang Tongtong Commercial Co Ltd, reducing them to metal frames.

The two-storied shop was charcoaled black, with fires stripping of all materials that were combustible. Metal scraps falling from the shop broke the windows and potteries of a nearby shop.

"They want to take advantage of the reporters' visit; they know the tricks," said a local police officer who refused to identify himself.

Police in shields and helmets began to gather on the section of the street, which measures about 120 steps by foot.

Aimaiti, 24, whose Karwan Car Deco Store,is only 15 metres away from the burnt car dealers' shop, distanced himself from the protest.

"My business was almost ruined;" said Aimaiti, " I wouldn't like to see chaos anymore."

Aimaiti, who opened the store four years ago, told China Daily that before the July 5 violence, he could earn up to 3,000 yuan a day, but now business was grounded to a standstill.

He said that at around 8 pm on Sunday, a horde of rioters smashed the monitoring camera installed in front of his shop, and were about to loot his building, when he and his 10 colleagues went out to argue with the protesters.

"I asked them, why smashing it (the video monitor)? What wrongdoing had we done? They somehow left and moved on."

The car decoration shop owner said he was scared witless. From Monday he and four of his co-workers started sitting in front of the building to stand guard against any possibilities.

"My friends, the Han and Uygur as well, have made a lot of phone calls to console me, some are suppliers in Guangzhou, asking me to be careful of safety," he said.

"I told them I was fine, and that I anticipate things will return to normal in one or two weeks, so customers can go on shipping my car decoration materials."

At 11:00 am, some protesters began to use loudspeakers and yelled at the top of their lung. Police stood around 30 metres away from them, and seemed to be very patient with the protesters.

Yao Chengqing, 35, who lives across the car dealers' shop, said he still did not understand why the rioters could be so cruel to him in the July 5 unrest.

"I was about to go to bed when they broke into my shop and struck me with iron bars and batons, wounding my head and breaking my arm," said Yao, who came from Anhui province.

Yao sells net covers for construction sites. He said he had friends of both Han and Uygur ethnic groups, and they are on good terms.

"I couldn't figure out why this happened to me," he said, pointing to the gauze that was attached to his scalp.

For Aniwar Maimaiti, a Uygur from Aksu in southern Xinjiang, life has become difficult since July 5.

The 33-year-old salesman said he had yet to recover from the mental trauma afflicted by the incident. As many shops and restaurants were closed, it was hard to find a place for breakfast.

Being single, Maimaiti often has breakfast in restaurants. But on Tuesday morning, he could not break his fast until he walked into the fifth restaurant that he found open for business.

"I don't think violence (of the July 5 sort) is a good way for solutions," he said. "A better way is to increase communications."

Behind him in the Muslim restaurant near the Hoi Tak Hotel at Dongfeng Road in downtown Urumqi, a notice daubed on the wall was eye-catching.

It reads: "Do not engage in fighting or scuffling, or it may bring you 10 days in detainment, 500 yuan in fine, 1,000 yuan for medicare, and cause worries from your family, your own bleeding, plus adding to personal enemies and increasing your regrets. "

On Monday evening, a day after the riot, traffic flow on the usually thronging highway from the Urumqi airport to downtown was reduced to a trickle.

A driver surnamed Zhou said it often takes at least an hour to get to the Hoi Tak Hotel, but it cost only 30 minutes on Monday evening.

Riot police armed with tear-gas bombs, rifles, batons and shields could be found patrolling on the street near the hotel, with armored vehicles rolling by.

However, the situation seemed not to have affected the mood of travelers. A traveler from Taiwan, also surnamed Zhou, said she was not scared or afraid of traveling in Xinjiang.

Zhou, whose tourism delegation arrived on Monday night, left the Hoi Tak Hotel early Tuesday morning.

"There are people who protect us, and we will try to avoid dangerous zones; so we can continue our trips worry-free," the Kaosiung resident said.

Ng Yuchui, a tourist guide with a Hong Kong travel agency, said his group had slightly changed their itinerary. Instead of going to bazaars for shopping, they visited the Hongshan Park in Urumqi on Monday.

Yuan Xiaohong, another tour guide serving the group, said though they were warned not to go outside hotel at nights, the travelers showed no panic during their four-day visit in Xinjiang.

They concluded their travel and left Urumqi as scheduled on Tuesday morning, without cutting short their agenda, Yuan said.

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