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Suspicion and discrimination facts of daily life, say Uighurs
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 31, 2013

Chinese boy, 10, jumps to death 'on teacher's order'
Beijing (AFP) Oct 31, 2013 - A 10-year-old Chinese boy jumped 30 floors to his death after failing to write a self-criticism letter demanded by his teacher, state media reported Thursday.

The fifth-grade primary school student had been ordered to write a 1,000-character apology by his teacher for talking in class, China National Radio (CNR) reported on its website, citing a neighbour.

The educator allegedly told him to jump out of a building after he failed to complete the task, the report quoted relatives and the neighbour as saying.

"Teacher, I can't do it," was found written in one of his textbooks, CNR said. "I flinched several times when I tried to jump from the building."

The child smashed into a parked car beneath the flat where his family live, the West China City News reported.

His furious relatives posted a banner outside the school in the southwestern city of Chengdu reading: "The teacher forced our kid to jump off the building," pictures showed Thursday.

"The police investigation is still under way," an official of Jinjiang district, where the incident happened, told AFP, declining to comment further.

Strict discipline is an essential part of China's education system and culture, and tradition demands deference to authority, putting children under pressure to obey instructions.

The news provoked sadness and sympathy on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

"How can a guy like this be a teacher?" wrote one poster. "Who gave him the right to speak in this way? Why does the student have this kind of blind obedience?"

The boy's school said Thursday on its verified account that the child and some of his classmates had been ordered to write reviews of their behaviour after they disturbed a speaking competition.

He died "by accident", it said.

Discrimination against China's mainly Muslim Uighur minority is widespread, members of the community said Thursday, and they fear yet more suspicion in the wake of an attack in Tiananmen Square.

Uighurs, from the far western region of Xinjiang, mostly follow Sunni Islam and their central Asian physical appearance clearly distinguishes them from China's ethnic Han majority.

"Its always the case in Xinjiang that when something happens elsewhere the police tighten restrictions on travel and things like that," said Ablikim, a student at a university in Beijing who would only give his first name.

"We are wary of talking about the event online because we could be arrested without any evidence," he said of Monday's Tiananmen attack which Beijing describes as terrorism.

Police have captured five suspects after an SUV ploughed into crowds and crashed in the symbolic heart of the Chinese state, bursting into flames.

Three people inside the vehicle and two tourists were killed. The SUV had a Xinjiang number plate and the names of the three dead and of the five detainees sounded Uighur.

A chef at a Uighur-owned restaurant in Beijing, where customers drank strong tea and broke freshly baked flat bread, said ethnic discrimination was commonplace.

"A lot of Han people are suspicious of us," he said.

"Hotels in Beijing often don't let Uighurs stay and landlords won't rent houses to us."

In a university canteen, a middle-aged Uighur man slurping on noodles said: "I applied for a passport three times, each time I was turned down and they gave no reason."

"Finding a job, getting a passport, or opening a business -- we are unequal in these things," he added.

Local governments in Xinjiang have banned government officials and students from fasting for the Muslim festival of Ramadan, and rights groups say the Chinese state restricts the content of religious services.

"My brother is a tax officer in Xinjiang and he was ordered to eat during Ramadan, his boss drove him to a restaurant and said that he must eat," the man said.

Beijing says it ensures religious freedom for all of its citizens and has preferential policies towards ethnic minorities.

A mural opposite the 1,000-year-old Niujie mosque -- the oldest in Beijing -- depicts cartoon-like images of minority ethnic groups dancing happily.

The imam, who gave his name as Salih and is a member of the Hui minority, said after leading afternoon prayers: "The relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims are very good."

"This was just the act of a kind of individual," he said of the Tiananmen incident. "I feel it has nothing to do with Muslims."

But at the canteen, the noodle eater feared that suspicion of Uighurs would mount after the accusations of terrorism.

"I'm worried that some of my friends will not understand after these reports," he said. "I love this country but I'm afraid that people won't understand me."


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