Uyghur-Canadians are banding together to protest the recent crackdown by Chinese authorities on demonstrations in their homeland, events that have been an “awakening” for the tiny community. Nearly all of the Toronto 120 Uyghurs demonstrated outside the Chinese consulate in Toronto while another 30 of Alberta’s Uyghurs gathered at the Chinese consulate in Calgary. The Toronto group was joined by a few dozen supporters, mostly from the region’s Turkish community. The Uyghurs are a Muslim people of Turkic descent who have a long history in a part of northwestern China bordered by Mongolia and Kazakhstan in the north and India in the south.
French daily newspaper Libération charts a similar response of 50 Uyghurs who protested in Paris.
As unrest in China continues after bloody weekend riots in the Xinjiang region, police in Munich are investigating an arson attack on the Chinese consulate in Munich early on Tuesday morning. The building’s exterior sustained minimal damage, and a Chinese flag on a flagpole was burned. The city’s criminal investigation department is currently searching for two unidentified men seen around 1 am near the consulate building. Local residents described hearing a car with squealing tires speed off.
The incident follows violent demonstrations outside the Chinese embassy at the Hague in the Netherlands. Police there arrested 142 people for throwing stones at the building on Monday.
“China has made solemn representations to the Netherlands and Germany,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. “We strongly urge the Netherlands and Germany … to take measures to ensure the safety and dignity of Chinese diplomats and institutions, to guarantee the normal work order, avoid this happening again and deal with the perpetrators.”
Munich authorities are not sure whether there is a link between the consulate attack and ethnic violence involving Uighur Muslims in China. Erkin Zunun, a spokesman for the World Uighur Congress, said he believes the two incidents are linked. “We don’t know who threw the petrol bombs, but we do know that our people hate the Chinese authorities,” he said. Zunun said he was angered by the conduct of Chinese police. According to official figures, more than 150 people have died so far in the riots in the northeast region of China where many Uighurs live.