Ghulja incident

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Ghulja incident
Date February 3-5, 1997
Caused by
Goals Uyghur independence
Methods Protests, rioting
Resulted in Protests suppressed
Parties to the civil conflict
Uyghur independence activists
  • 9 (official reports)
  • 100+ (dissident claims)
Arrested 1,600+ (dissident claims)

The Ghulja incident (Chinese: 伊宁事件; pinyin: Yīníng Shìjiàn, also referred to as the Ghulja Massacre[1]) was the culmination of the Ghulja protests of 1997, a series of demonstrations[2] in the city of Ghulja (known as Yining (伊宁) in Chinese) in the Xinjiang autonomous region of China (PRC) beginning in early February 1997.

The protests were sparked by the news of the execution of 30 Uyghur independence activists[3] as well as the crackdown on attempts to revive elements of traditional Uyghur culture, including traditional gatherings known as meshrep.[4] On 5 February 1997, after two days of protests during which the protesters had marched shouting "God is great" and "independence for Xinjiang",[5] and had reportedly been dispersed using clubs, water cannon, and tear gas,[6] the demonstrators were massacred by the Chinese Army gunfire.[6] Official reports put the death toll at 9,[7] while dissident reports estimated the number killed at more than 100[3] and even as many as 167.


According to dissident sources, as many as 1,600 people[3] were arrested on charges of intending to "split the motherland", conducting criminal activity, fundamental religious activity, and counter-revolutionary activities following the crackdown[8] carried out in the years immediately following the incident in Xinjiang, overwhelmingly against Uyghurs. Rebiya Kadeer, who witnessed the Ghulja Incident, went on to become leader of the World Uyghur Congress.


Some activists escaped to Afghanistan and then Pakistan under the Taliban. Then they were detained or sold to the USA forces who renditioned them to Guantanamo.[9]

See also


  1. ^ "Protest marks Xinjiang 'massacre'". Al Jazeera. February 6, 2007.
  2. ^ "Xinjiang to intensify crackdown on separatists", China Daily, 10/25/2001
  3. ^ a b c "Gulja Massacre". Channel 4 (UK). 1997.
  4. ^ "China: Remember the Gulja massacre? China's crackdown on peaceful protesters". Amnesty International.
  5. ^ "China's 'war on terror'". BBC News. September 10, 2002.
  6. ^ a b "Uighur Developments in the 1990s". Global Security. 2008.
  7. ^ "China Uighurs executed". BBC News. January 27, 1998.
  8. ^ A report by Amnesty International documented as many as 190 execution "Gross Violations of Human Rights in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region". Amnesty International. 1999.
  9. ^ "The Guantanamo 22 | China | Al Jazeera". Retrieved January 3, 2019.
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