Here is the BBC on the protests ... there is some decent video here showing a large group of Han thugs headed to the Uigher part of town for revenge and also a crowd of Uigher women demanding to know where their men were taken.
The NYT has a repeat of yesterday's story with a little more from today added in ... not much different than the BBC version, but check out the slideshow, there is a great pic of the Han thugs as they march. You can see that for many of these guys, this is a show, some fun, something to take the monotony out of the day. Sure, they might hate Uighers because they're Uighers, but this whole gang thing is just a bit o the old ultra violence for them.
Whereas for the Uigher this is life and death. What does it take to take to the streets as a protester in a country where such acts result in life in jail, death and a heavier hand on all those left behind? How do you escape the futility that fills you up?
In this article in the Asia Times, Dr. Jian Junbo gives a sober rundown of the situation and blames the unrest on a variety of factors that are basically breaking down the Marxist-era policy of making all ethnic groups within China "members of one great Chinese family" of laborers, with Capitalists and landowners as the common enemy.
He goes into Han grievances, which seem to revolve around the one-child policy and affirmative action in the universities and in some economic sectors. I find these arguments laughably weak.
First off, the Han are the overwhelming majority in China and the one-child policy is a function of over-population, not ethnic preference. Second, the minorities tend to live in rural, poor and/or remote areas like: the Himalayas, around the Taklamaklan and Gobi deserts, in the mountains of Guizhou, southern Sichuan and Yunnan. These are "underpopulated areas" (relatively speaking, this is China after all). Han far outnumber all the minorities put together, 1.3 billion to 123 million.
And affirmative action is also a very weak premise for Han anger, because the very very small number of minorities who benefit from affirmative action is absolutely insignificant compared to the advantages shared by all those who call themselves Han in China.
The real reason for bringing up these arguments is simple tactics. Did Rebiya Kadeer cause these riots? Or were they cause by one man posting rumors? or were they caused by simmering ethnic hatred? or were they caused by a failing Marxist system, as Dr. Jian proposes? For the majority of Han and the current Chinese leadership, the simpler the answer, the better. China wants their people to remain sheep -- money spending sheep -- but still sheep.
The most important thing to understand about this is that Uighers are actually X and Han are actually Y and these variables and the relationship between them can be superimposed upon any values (i.e. ethnic groups) across the globe.
If seen in this light, then we find a common mistake: one value is "heavier" than the other, resulting in imbalance and dis-harmony and then, eventually, violence. So far, across the globe, the common solution has been to increase the weight of the heavy value and hope that through an even larger imbalance, the problem will solve itself, perhaps with the elimination of the lighter value. All we have seen this approach produce is prolonged violence and suffering.
The real solution is to find a balanced, sustainable relationship. This invariably requires the heavy value (Han, Whites, Israelis,) to step back and allow the lighter value (Tibetans, Uighers, Blacks, Hispanics, Palestinians) to gain weight. "Gaining weight" can mean: gaining control of their religion, gaining control of their economic future, gaining control of their political future. These things will immediately remove the need for violence. People with jobs, a place to worship freely and a choice in who their leaders are will be content.
The rub is, of course, that the heavier values FEAR this above all things. Because this is an existential thing. To dominate and crush the weaker value ensures not only survival but sustained survival for whomever is doing the crushing. To step back and allow your "rival" for resources to grow sounds like suicide.
Sometimes, i feel i talk myself into circles and in the end all of this is quite meaningless. What i really believe? In this new world there is no place for Uighers or Tibetans or Native Americans or even Palestinians as they were. There is only one type of person who can and will make it and that is the person who believes wholeheartedly that the way we are moving is the one and only true faith. Progress, Modernity, Capitalism. All other faiths WILL die. The rest of us who don't believe better pretend or find a place to hide or be converted.