Washington: The US has asked China to safeguard the rights of its Uighur minority in Xinjiang province and carry out a transparent probe into the latest incident of violence in which 21 people died.
"We are deeply concerned by the reports of violent confrontation in Xinjiang that left 21 people dead. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully," US State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell told reporters.
"We regret the unfortunate acts of violence that led to these casualties, and we`ll continue to encourage Chinese officials to take steps to reduce tensions and promote long-term stability in Xinjiang," he said.
Ventrell asked the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of this incident, and to provide all Chinese citizens, including Uighurs, the due process protections to which they are entitled not only under China`s constitutional laws but under their international human rights commitments as well.
During the press conference, Ventrell also urged China to release Memetjan Abdulla, who worked as an editor of the state-run China National Radio`s Uighur Service and was detained in July 2009 for allegedly instigating ethnic rioting in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region.
On April 01, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
"The exact charges against Abdullah were not disclosed, but Radio Free Asia reported on the sentence and cited a witness at the trial that stated that Abdullah was targeted for talking to international journalists in Beijing about the riots as well as translating articles on the website.”
"We call on the Government of China to release Memetjan Abdulla and all other journalists imprisoned for their work," the US official said.
When asked about the US assessment of the situation with the Uighurs in China, Ventrell said the State Department is "deeply concerned" by ongoing reports of discrimination against and restrictions on Uighurs and other Muslims in China.
"We urge the Chinese Government to cease policies that seek to restrict the practice of religious beliefs across China. But we`ve been particularly concerned about the Uighurs and have stated so publicly in the past," he said.
Further the US also remain "deeply concerned" that Chinese authorities continue to hold Liu Xia, wife of Nobel Laureate and imprisoned activist Liu Xiaobo under unjustified and extra-legal house arrest, he said.
China frequently voices anger at US criticism of its human rights record, although the world`s two largest economies cooperate frequently in other areas, including trade and on the showdown with Beijing`s ally North Korea.