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Internet still not restored in Xinjiang

(RSF/IFEX) - Despite claims by the Chinese authorities that restrictions on Internet services and communications are gradually being lifted in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, this is not the case. Official websites such as Xinhuanet.com and People.com.cn are again available, but most of the Internet is still cut off seven months after the riots.

"We condemn the Chinese government's propaganda, which is trying to give the impression that communications have been restored in Xinjiang," Reporters Without Borders said. "Despite a few highly-publicised measures, the Internet in Xinjiang continues in practice to be cut off from the rest of the world."

The press freedom organisation added: "Such discrimination against Uyghurs and other local ethnic minorities will not in any way help to restore stability in China. It is archaic, it is a step backwards. China needs to demonstrate its commitment to the modern era by allowing all of its citizens to have unrestricted access to the Internet."

Reporters Without Borders has established that Uyghur websites such as Diyarim ( http://www.diyarim.com/ ), Xabnam ( http://www.xabnam.com/ ), Ulinix ( http://www.ulinix.com/ ), Uzmakan ( http://www.uzmakan.com/ ), Uzonline ( http://www.uzonline.net/ ) and Zyzg ( http://zyzg.us/ ) are still blocked. The complete list can be seen at: http://www.rsf.org/Survey-of-blocked-Uyghur-websites.html

Anyone connecting to the Internet in Xinjiang cannot leave comments or see the forum sections on websites. Any unpatriotic comment or rumour is banned and people are being urged to denounce violators so that they can be punished. It is also impossible to send or receive emails. The Chinese authorities have continued to closely monitor all information about the Uyghurs since the inter-ethnic rioting on 5 July 2009 in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital.

International calls are still being monitored in post offices and are now more expensive, and therefore beyond the reach of most of the population. The situation is the same with SMS messages.

According to the Danwei website, a Uyghur citizen identified as Ma ZZ was arrested for sending an SMS about the security forces and Uyghur demands to several contacts on 17 January 2010. His comments were described as "harmful," "dangerous" and "undermining social unity and peace and public security" and he was called "criminal." Another Uyghur, Zhou XX, reportedly confessed to sending "terrorist" SMS messages.

Dilshat Parhat, Nureli, Obulkasim and Muhemmet, four cyber-dissidents and creators of Uyghur websites, continue to be detained.

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