Rumors claiming that Uyghurs at a toy factory in Shaoguan, in southeastern China, had raped two Chinese women led a mob of Han Chinese workers on 26 June 2009 to raid the dormitories of Uyghur workers and beat two Uyghur workers to death. The rumors turned out to be inaccurate later on. In the following conflicts between the Han Chinese workers and workers from other ethnicities, around 20 Uyghur s were killed and many others were injured, according to accounts from witnesses and Uyghur sources.
Thousands of people led by the relatives of the slain workers and university students took to the streets of Urumqi on July 5 and asked authorities not to remain indifferent to the incidents and commission an independent delegation to investigate the incidents. However, Chinese police used tear gas and heavy weapons and opened fire on the protestors, making the demonstrations to turn into a mass demonstration across East Turkistan against the years-long ethnic discrimination faced by Uyghurs.
According to Uyghur sources and witness accounts, at least 500 people, most of whom are Uyghurs, were killed on July 5 and following days while 1,000 others were injured in the conflicts. Hundreds of people were detained, subjected to torture or sentenced to life sentence or death penalty.
At least 4,000 people were arrested in operations conducted by Chinese police, paramilitary police and army in Urumqi, Kashgar and Hoten over charges of involvement in murder, plundering, attacks and arson during the protests. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), 100 male Uyghur were detained in neighborhoods of Urumqi during night raids on July 6. The detained Uyghurs were aged between 12 and 40 and the fate of most of them is still unknown. Families of the detained are concerned about their safety because no information has been given to them about detained Uyghurs.
A report titled, “Cases of Enforced Disappearances of Civilians in East Turkistan,” and released by the World Uyghur Congress in June 2012 gives detailed information about two Kazakhs and 21 Uyghurs who were detained in Urumqi in July 2009 and nothing has been heard from them over the past three years. According to the report, although the families of these people applied to Beijing and Xinjiang administration for many times to receive information about the whereabouts of their detained relatives, they received no response.
Some of the rights violations including the civilian, political, economic and social rights in east Turkistan could be summarized as follows: Arbitrary detentions, torture and capital punishment, population transfer, exclusion from economic life, discrimination in access to healthcare services, assimilation of Uyghur langaugae and bans on prayers etc.