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One month on, traumatized Xinjiang recovering with difficulty
Latest Updated at 2009-August-6 09:33:31
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The streets in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, were busy on Wednesday. Chinese and foreign tourists flooded the markets, bargaining with local sellers in different languages and accents.

But posters of wanted suspects on walls kept alive in people's minds the deadly riot one month previously, in which 197 people died.

The presence of armed police guarding major intersections with shields and guns shows hidden tension in which the northwestern city is healing its wounds with difficulty.

ENDLESS WAITING

After more than 20 days, Wang Liping from Kashgar finally found her 15-year-old son in Urumqi.

"I was so anxious during those days," the exhausted mother said. "I had DNA tests done at the police bureau, followed the rising death toll in the newspapers and posted many notices."

What she didn't know was that her son, afraid of being attacked outside, had hidden in internet cafes most of the time.

The boy was found by a restaurant owner, who happened to see a notice left on a pole by the desperate mother.

Wang said she was lucky, as there were still people searching for their beloved ones, those they might never see again.

Wang Yonggang lost contact with his wife on July 5. The 34-year-old from Yining city, more than 700 kilometers away, said that his wife came to Urumqi several days before the riot looking for a house to open a shop.

"A friend told me he saw my wife in Yining. But if that was true, why didn't she call me?" he kept asking.

HEALING THE WOUND

One month is long enough for many people to recover physically, but too short to heal the wounds in their hearts.

Yang Zengli's head was injured in the riot and he had nine stitches inserted.

Touching his head - which still hurts every now and then - he said the scene where his wife, daughter and mother were chased and beaten still haunted his mind.

"One of my wife's sisters was killed, another was blinded," he said bitterly.

His wife, daughter and mother were injured, but are alive.

"If they had died, I would have gone with them," he said.

Wang Liping, who was born and grew up in Xinjiang, said she had many Uygur friends and had been on good terms with the Uygurs before the riot.

"They still cared about me and prayed for me while I came to look for my son," she said, gratefully. "I don't understand why this happened."

"How I hope we could return to the harmony that we used to enjoy," she said.

Her aspiration was echoed by many Uygurs as well.

Roxingul had a clothes stall in the Big Bazaar, which had been closed for half a month before reopening. The girl suffered great financial loss and for several days had no customers at all.

"But now it's becoming better and more customers are coming," she said.

Knowing her losses, many visitors from other parts of the country don't bargain with her while buying, comforting and encouraging her to believe tomorrow will be better.

Aynur Tursun, a doctor at the People's Hospital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said: "After the riot, I found it hard to call a taxi in the street."

A kind Han driver finally stopped for her.

In the car, he asked her how she hadn't been scarred mentally by the riot.

"I told him that I had been playing with Han friends since childhood and had a deep understanding and feeling for the Hans," she said emotionally. "Anyone with a conscience does not want these things to happen and the rioters will sooner or later be punished."

At first, the driver was inhospitable to her, but they said goodbye when the doctor arrived at her destination. Tursun believed she untied a knot in the driver's heart.

"There are definitely more knots to be untied, and time may heal the wounds," she said.

Dimurat Wanir, dean of the College of Humanities at the Xinjiang Normal University, said the riot's effect was very bad and far-reaching.

But he was optimistic. "After all, most ordinary people long for peace, stability and prosperity."

The Urumqi museum is staging a photo exhibition entitled "We are a Family", showing pictures telling stories of people from different ethnic groups helping each other during the riot.

"The friendship between Hans and Uygurs has lasted for years," said a visitor to the exhibition, Li Xiaoxia. "It is not so easy to destroy it."

IRON HAND

Efforts are being mounted to return the region to normal.

Collecting evidence has been a heavy load for the city's police force. It had involved examinations at the crime scenes and DNA evaluation and the collection of many pieces of evidence, but it had been carried out swiftly, said Chen Zhuangwei, head of the Public Security Department of Urumqi.

He said 718 people had been detained on suspicion of being implicated in the riot, and the first 83 people been arrested on suspicion of the same implication.

Those arrested will face charges including murder, intentional injury, inciting racial hatred, arson and robbery, said procurator Utiku'er Abudrehman.

The regional media office sends short messages to mobile phone users every day reporting on the social situation in Urumqi.

When resident Wang Shu switched on her cellphone Wednesday morning, she got the message. "Social order was good on Tuesday. We wish you healthy and safe. Let's unite to build our homeland into a better place."

"A nice day." Wang smiled.

Editor: Olivia

By: Bai Xu, Li Zhihui and Pan Ying Source: China View website

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