Emerging discrimination? Three Uyghur pilots grounded.

Update: Xinhua has quickly released an article responding to these allegations. Check it out here. It asserts that the Uyghur pilots in question, Aikebaier Maimaiti and Ailiyiming Niyazi who are 757 captains for China Southern, and the apparently single-named Dulihong, a Xinjiang “General-Use” Airlines pilot, have all flown regularly between the attacks and now, and even quote Maimaiti and Niyazi speaking about their recent routes.

Aikebaier Maimaiti recently completed a two-way international flight between Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, and Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, on Tuesday morning. He told Xinhua in a phone interview, “Since August 1, I have flown 36.05 hours on routes between Urumqi and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi’an.”

On Wednesday morning, he will fly between Urumqi and Islamabad, Pakistan.

Ailiyiming Niyazi told Xinhua he had flown safely for a total of 17,542 hours. Since Aug. 1, he had worked on routes between Urumqi and Hotan, Xiamen, Shenzhen, Zhengzhou and Changsha.

And so this boils down to which article to believe, but I’m going to say my hunch is that this time the Times Online (and therefore The New Dominion) has been lead astray by one attention seeking anonymous source. Original and likely erroneous post we made on the topic under the break.

It’s inevitable, and it’s very human: when unsavory acts continuously crop up and are repeatedly associated with a particular identity or ethnicity, a significant lack of trust and tangible prejudice are bound to emerge. Lopsided policies and politics have been a constant in Xinjiang since its founding back in the 50s, but the Times Online has revealed a particularly interesting and poignant case of outright prejudice since the recent spate of attacks: the three Uyghur pilots who fly for Chinese airlines have been grounded.

The three Uighur airline pilots in the Chinese aviation fleet have been ordered from their cockpits by authorities anxious to maintain security during the Olympic Games.

Their removal, along with the switching of Uighur cabin staff to flights outside the troubled Xinjiang province, follows a renewal of violence by Uighur separatists.

The article claims that the pilots were grounded after the attempted hijacking attempt back in March, which begs the question why the information has only come to our attention now, several months later. But its fascinating nonetheless, how unashamed Beijing is being about explicitly linking terrorism to the Uyghurs, using a sort of “All terrorists have been Uyghurs, therefore, all Uyghurs are terrrorists” converse logic that would make anyone with a halfway decent high school education cringe. It truly is a grave injustice to these professionals, the pilots and the retired crew, to immediately find them guilty by ethnic association.

No further details are available unfortunately, and the above-linked article simply states their condition and then goes on to provide the usual background – the recent attacks, China’s largest yet most sparsely populated region, the usual spiel. Nonetheless, I can’t help but sense that this is the beginning of a greater trend that will prove grave for many talented, bright, and harmless Uyghur professionals out there.

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Comments 3

  1. wgj wrote:

    Remotely related but nonetheless relevant: Hours ago, a Uyghur named “Hanati Silamu” (obviously that’s the Chinese version, but it’s the official record) won an Olympic bronze medal in boxing for China.

    Posted 22 Aug 2008 at 11:14 pm
  2. Porfiriy wrote:

    Hi WGJ: Hanati Silamu is a Kazakh.

    Posted 23 Aug 2008 at 12:01 am
  3. hehe wrote:

    This is a fake news. Times had apologized.

    Posted 05 Sep 2008 at 9:48 am

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