Violent clashes erupted on July 5, 2009, in Urumqi, the administrative capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, between Uyghur demonstrators, who were reacting to reports of the deaths of Uyghurs working in the Guangdong city of Shaoguan, and the police. Reprisal attacks by local Han residents followed, and these and the original disturbances cost the lives of at least 200 people and drew the attention of the world’s media to an ethnic and political conflict that had been neglected for decades. 1 While the violence was widely reported in the Western media, the background causes, the long history of both territorial dispute and the struggle for the right to independence (or at least genuine autonomy) of the Turkic-speaking Uyghur Muslims of Eastern Turkestan, were less well covered.