A Uyghur farmer on his way to work in the fields was shot and killed by police in northwestern China’s restive Xinjiang region this week after he pulled a knife on officers attempting to detain him, sources said.
The Feb. 16 shooting in Bashquduqla village of Purchaqchi town in Hotan (In Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Qaraqash (Moyu) county occurred when police stopped the man for acting “suspicious” and demanded he accompany them to their station, local sources told RFA’s Uyghur Service.
“But the suspect refused to go with them, saying that he was on his way to the fields to work and that family members were waiting for him there,” Hemit Abdureshit, a local official of the ruling Chinese Communist Party said, citing witnesses to the event.
The farmer promised he would report to the police on the following day, Abdureshit said, but the officers “manhandled him, attempting to drag him away, and the suspect pulled out a knife.”
“No sooner had he gotten his knife out than an armed policeman standing a short distance away fired a single shot, killing him,” he said.
The victim was not immediately identified by name, but was described by another local official as having been about 40 years old and survived by two children.
“We found out later that he had been jailed for 10 years for political reasons,” Memtimin Dolet, security chairman of Purchaqchi town’s no. 6 village, told RFA. “He complained to his neighbors that he was never left alone, even after being released.”
Dolet said that he and other members of his team routinely cooperate with Chinese paramilitary troops stationed in his village, especially when questioning or searching the homes of Uyghurs wearing traditional Islamic dress.
“When they go to check up on bearded and veiled people, [the Chinese] take us with them,” Dolet said.
“We enter people’s homes first, and if there is no threat we will ask them to come in. Otherwise, they wait outside,” he said.
“Sometimes, though, the Chinese conduct the searches on their own, and because of language differences and related issues there are often misunderstandings and conflicts with the locals.”
“This particular incident probably happened for reasons like this,” he said.
Hotan has frequently been the scene of violent clashes between the ethnic, mostly Muslim Uyghurs and Chinese security forces, with attacks coming amid a string of assaults and bombings across Xinjiang, sources say.
In July, unidentified assailants armed with axes and knives attacked a Qaraqash county official and his wife in apparent retaliation for a police raid on a local mosque, killing the woman and leaving the man badly injured, sources said.