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Huseyin Celil
Husein Dzhelil standing in front of the Canadian Parliament buildings, Ottawa, Ontario, May2005.
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East Turkistan map (also known as Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region)
Xinjiang authorities ban online separatist talk: State media

BEIJING: Authorities in China's restive northwestern Xinjiang region on Sunday approved a bill making it a criminal offence for people there to
discuss separatism on the Internet, state media reported.

The bill passed by Xinjiang's standing committee bans people in the region from using the Internet in any way that undermines national unity, incites ethnic separatism or harms social stability, the China News Service reported.

The bill requires Xinjiang's Internet service providers and network operators to set up monitoring systems -- or strengthen existing ones -- and report anyone who breaks the law, the report said.

The bill did not specify what punishment offenders would face, but its apparent aim is to allow authorities to arrest individuals behind e-mails, web postings and sharing of media within the region that they deem to be a threat.

"The introduction of the 'Information Promotion Bill' is timely and necessary," the report quoted the bill as saying. "It ensures Internet criminals can be quickly and effectively controlled in the future."

Several media sites and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are already blocked in China and the country's web censors often do not allow search engines to display results for politically sensitive topics.

The bill said terrorists, separatists and religious extremists used the Internet, telephones and mobile text messages to spread rumors and hatred as violence erupted in the region's capital Urumqi on July 5, the report said.

In one of the biggest known Internet shutdowns anywhere, authorities quickly cut off Internet access in the region and disabled text messages, restricting the flow of information going in and out of Xinjiang.

Despite these efforts exile communities used video-sharing websites such as YouTube to release images of the unrest hours before these appeared on China's state-controlled media.

Members of the ethnic Uighur minority -- most of whom are Muslims -- went on a rampage July in attacks directed mainly at members of China's dominant Han ethnic group.

The riots were the worst ethnic violence in China in decades, leaving 197 people dead, most of them Han, according to the government.

The bill was announced in the lead up to the 60th anniversary of what China calls the "liberation" of Xinjiang.

Many of Xinjiang's Uighurs, a central Asian people with vast religious, cultural and linguistic differences from the Han, accuse China of decades of oppression and complain of unwanted Han migration to the vast desert region.

China, however, blames the seething unrest in Xinjiang on "separatists" but has provided no evidence.
Uyghur Canadian Society (UCS)
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