Monday, July 6, 2009
China Rioting More Deadly Than Iran's
Comparisons between the regimes in Iran and China have been made before - both totalitarian, both controlling the flow of information by various means including electronic censorship. But today we're seeing yet another comparison - and this one is deadly.
Rioting in China has claimed the lives of at least 140 people. More than 800 have been injured. And officials predict the casualty rate will rise.
This eclipses even the brutal crackdown on demonstrators in Iran over the past several weeks.
The upheaval is occurring in the Xingiang region in the west.
But unlike in Iran, this conflict is not between the people and their government. It's between ethnic Muslims and Hans - the ethnic majority in China. Although, reportedly, it all started when several thousand Ulghur Muslims gathered to protest and police moved in to disperse them. Militant Ulghurs have been waging a separatist movement in the region.
Why they turned on the ethnic Chinese Hans civilians remains - at this time - a mystery.
Authorities took a page out of the Iranian crackdown on protesters there by turning off cellphone service to prevent the Uighurs from organizing.
Leaders of the Uighurs exile movement are making another comparison to Iran. They are blaming the police for the violence. But there is one key difference between China and Iran. Unlike in Xingiang, in Iran we're not seeing civilians attacking civilians.