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Traumatized citizens call for psychological assistance after Urumqi riot

2009-07-15 21:14 BJT

Special Report: 7.5 Xinjiang Urumqi Riots |

by Xinhua writers Li Jianmin, Xiong Congru

URUMQI, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Tursun Hasan cannot help but shiver whenever he recalls a horrible scene he witnessed more than a week ago in which a man was beaten to death by thugs using bricks and a huge stone.

The man was among the 192 people killed in the violence that erupted in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on the night of July 5.

"I looked down from my second floor apartment, and saw five or six men of the Uygur ethnic group beating up a Han man," said Tursun, a 59-year-old Uygur man.

"They hit him on the head with bricks and one of them knocked him down with a huge stone... At the end of this, they even stole his mobile phone, wallet and watch," he said.

A pious Uygur Muslim, Tursun said he felt his heart was torn with grief. "I didn't eat for three days. Even now, I'm still in horror," he said.


The riot has inflicted trauma on most of Urumqi's 3.5 million residents, "physically and mentally," said Zhang Zhibin, director of the psychological health center with an Urumqi-based People's Liberation Army hospital.

The center hospitalized 28 patients injured in the July 5 riot and 67 others were treated as outpatients, he said.

"That night, they didn't yell or cry even when they were suffering unbearable pain or undergoing operation without anesthetics. I understand they were in an emotional shock," he said. "About three days later, most of them became irritable and began to shout and curse others.

"We tried to calm them down with comforting words, pats and sometimes medicine," he said. "They are recovering physically; but the psychological trauma still takes time to heal."

Psychological assistance is called for - and not just for the physically injured, but also eyewitnesses of the violence like Tursun Hasan, said Zhang.

"The relatives of the dead or injured, medical workers, policemen, journalists, officials and other citizens who saw the bloodshed on TV or newspapers may all need intervention," he said.

Xu Fei, a reporter with the Xinjiang People's Radio Station, said he had illusions after covering the riot that night. "In my dreams I'm forever running, with new weapons in my hands to attack other people."

Liu Huixia, a nurse at Zhang's center, said she had been depressed for more than a week. "I just don't want to talk or eat."

Panic, horror, anxiety, depression, hatred, distrust and other negative emotional states can also be seen from different groups of people, Zhang said.