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Urumqi children confined at home for summer vacation (07/13/09)

by Xinhua writers Ji Shaoting and Aynura

URUMQI, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Eight-year-old Wang Youmi was told by his ping pong coach that there would be no more training and he had better stay at home.

The reason was unnecessary to state as a fatal riot on July 5 in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, left 184 people killed and 1,680 injured.

Wang's summer holiday was re-themed to playing building blocks while listening to news broadcasts. He named his building block town Greendell, a place from one of his favorite cartoons.

"One road has been blocked in Greendell," he said. At the same time, Part of Urumqi has been under traffic control since July 5.

Wang had also been under kind of traffic control imposed by his parents for his own safety. He can only play with some 20 children of his age in the community courtyard, where his best friend is Gulwira, an eight-year-old Uygur girl.

Wang Youmi was not alone. Thirteen-year-old Kergiz boy Talantbek has the same headache of not being allowed to leave his community yard for safety's sake.

Talantbek lives in Dawan, an area of serious rioting on July 5. Before the riots, more than 50 children, with ethnic backgrounds of Uygur, Han, Kergiz, Hazak and Hui, usually played games together after school.

"Many children were asked to stay at home after that horrible incident," he said.

Talantbek said he loved online games, mostly gun fighting games.

"Games are not bloody, totally different from the real world killing," he said, adding that he cannot connect the virtual world with the real one.

"I was scared when I saw some rioters beating two men in the street," he said.

Eighteen-year-old Uygur student Alemjan was more mature. She thought the impact of the riots would last for a period of time, "at least one month" he said.

"People need more time to recover," he said.

The young man said among his 50-odd friends, more than 30 were Han people. They had planned to go Karaoke and play roller skating together. But now they had to give up the plans. He played basketball and football instead in the yard.

"The riots might affect the relationship between strangers but not the iron friendship between us," he said.

Few people showed up on the first weekend after the riots in the Urumqi Children Park.

Xue Shengnan, aged 10, and her nine-year-old cousin Xue Muyun were the only children rowing on the park lake on Sunday.

"This place used to be full of people. I had to wait in line for a long time to rent a boat," said Xue Shengnan.

"I've got nothing to do after my English summer course was canceled. I'm stuck at home," she said, "my dad thought I really need some fresh air." Xue was accompanied by her father while boating.

Although confined to their courtyards, children could still find their own way out, through their imaginations. Wang Youmi bought a pile of astronomy books. He's obsessed with the cosmos.

"Does the cosmos create the electronic waves itself? Are there aliens in the cosmos?" he asked his mother.

"I hope this will be over soon. I really want to visit my cousin in Shawan City. Cannot wait to play with him," the boy said.

(Xinhua reporters Li Xiaoling and Pan Ying in Urumqi also contributed to the story.)



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