A former top official of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Saturday called for ethnic unity to maintain stability in the region.
Photo taken on July 12, 2009 shows a bustling bazaar in Aksu, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.[Xinhua]
Ismail Amat, a Uygur and former chairman of the Xinjiang government, strongly condemned the violent riot in Urumqi on July 5 in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency.
The incident has severely harmed ethnic unity, damaged social stability and has caused the great loss of lives and properties, said Amat, also the former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
More than 40 ethnic groups, including Uygurs and Hans, live in Xinjiang.
The July 5 riot was an organized and violent criminal act by separatists and terrorists from both home and abroad, he said. The separatists aimed to destroy ethnic unity and hinder the country's development, Amat said.
The violence is neither a matter of ethnicity nor a matter of religion, but a matter of national integrity, he said.
All the criminals that took part in the riots must be punished in accordance with the law, he said.
Amat voiced his strong support for the "resolute" and "effective" measures taken by the local government of the Xinjiang Urgur autonomous region, saying a quick recovery of social order is in line with the interests and will of the people of all ethnicities in Xinjiang.
He stressed that at the critical moment, "people of all ethnicities in Xinjiang should take the interests of all the people into account."
People in Xinjiang, regardless of their ethnicities, have the tradition of loving the country and have made great contributions to the region, he told Xinhua.
The former official pointed out that people can believe in different religions, belong to different ethnic groups and live in difference locations, but they must meet one common and basic tenet: to love their motherland.
The former Xinjiang official urged all ethnic groups to respect each other.
"We should protect ethnic unity just like protecting our eyes," he said.
He urged all officials in Xinjiang to shoulder their responsibility and act as models in safeguarding peace and development.
Xinhua contributed to the story