Peaceful protest turns violent in Urumqi

While I’m still really heartbroken that we don’t get to drive through Xinjiang on the way to Mongolia (China doesn’t allow you to drive your own car in China, someone else must drive, and not even sure if it can be your own vehicle…), sounds like it’s not quite the time to be visiting Urumqi (the capital of Xinjiang province, also known as East Turkestan by its Muslim population ).  Unrest apparently broke out today at protests featuring between 1000 and 3000 Chinese Muslims (Uyghurs).  The Chinese government has been waging a slow war of attrition/assimilation on the Turkic Muslim population in the province, arresting dissidents and sending many Han Chinese to live in Urumqi (pronounced ooh-room-chee) to thin out the Uyghur population.  There are supposed to be fascinating things to see over there, including some nearly 4000-year old mummies of Caucasian descent.  In any case, though, it sounds like another place we’d probably have to scratch off our list, had we been allowed to go there in the first place.

Update: Interesting story and photo essay in WaPo and Foreign Policy.

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