Government and Policy

Urumqi seeks recovery from riot trauma

Updated: 2009-12-31 19:12
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URUMQI: As the whole world is counting down to the year 2010, people in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are crossing fingers for a peaceful new year.

The year 2009 has been a nightmare to many in the city. Some people lost their acquaintances, some lost their peaceful life, and some lost their cherished friendship which they didn't know if they could retrieve.

Curing the Trauma

Ma Shijie's New Year wish was to find another job.

Formerly a chef from a hotel in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, the 26-year-old soft-spoken man said his life was changed on this past July 5.

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The riot happened while he was standing on the third floor of the hotel, looking out of the window.

"I saw three pedestrians killed by knife-wielding mobs," he was reluctant to recall the bloody scene.  "It was...horrible."

In the following months Ma's acquaintances noticed that the mild man changed. He became irritable and always got angry with others.

The worst thing was that he could no longer touch, or even look at the knife he used in the kitchen. This undoubtedly meant an end of his cooking career. Ma's mother called psychologist.

Meng Xinzhen from the psychological consultation center of Xinjiang military area went to Ma's home in November, to whom the man gradually started to confide.

"In Urumqi, there are many people like Ma," said the psychologist. "People strongly stimulated by bloody and violent scenes would need at least one month to half a year to recover."

Compared with Ma, children were more likely to be affected, Meng said.

It took 12-year-old Khalkhas girl Aygul Ablizto go out of her home again after knowing that her neighbor's family was killed on July 5.

Nearly 100 psychologists in Urumqi are trying to help people like Ma and Aygul.

"But there are some people who couldn't recover in short time. A few maybe living with the mental trauma for the rest of their lives," Meng said.

Horror Still Felt

As the New Year holiday was drawing near, college student Liu Xialing was preparing gifts for her grandparents in north China's Shanxi Province.

She liked the woolen vest sold in the Great Bazaar, but had give up the idea of going there on safety concern.

"Although there are police patrolling the streets, I am still afraid on the thought that something so horrible happened there," said the girl from the Xinjiang University.

"On the Christmas Eve I had a party with my classmates, among whom there were both Uygurs and Hans," she said.

Although they chatted and played games, the youngsters chose their words cautiously.

Her feeling was shared by Gheyremenyi from the Minzu University of China, whose best friend in middle school was killed in the riot.

The ebullient Uygur girl liked to hold parties. But she stopped to do so after the riot.

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