All that remains now of Uighur Online, courtesy of archive.org
As is the norm in China, no reason is given for website closures, just an order. All that can now be found at the site or its sister site Uighur Biz are instructions on how to donate to Chinese Red Cross, and this message:
Hello everyone! It is with extremely heavy hearts that we hereby notify you that due to those reasons that everyone knows, Uighur Online has been closed.
Thank you everyone for your constant support, care and help for Uighur Online, and even more thanks to the members of the management team, the BBS webmasters, the editors, columnists, experts and the academics who have put so much into Uighur Online. In the two short years that Uighur Online has been around and with the efforts of a multi-ethnic management team, the site receives on average around one million pageviews per day, with tens of thousands of registered users. With all the people we've come to know and friends we've made from many different ethnic groups, our understanding of each other has both broadened and deepened. Uighur Online provided grassroots communication channels between different ethnic groups, allowing for conversations and discussions which, we firmly believe, were quite meaningful.
E-mail contacts for written contributions to the site: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
May 15, 2008
The well-known Uighur Biz blogger on Sina.com adds that the “Harmonization Department” which “cares for” these things was responsible for the closure; one reader there speculates on the reasons for Uighur Online's closure writes:
From Baidu to Bullog to small local BBS forums, the response has been strong, but it too is being silenced. On May 19 this post already had six pages of comments; on May 20 it is somehow now down to just four pages.
What surprises many Uighur Online users is that the website was even properly licensed, the excuse most often used by authorities to shut blogs and BBS websites down. Indeed, the ‘Crowd of Spectators Out of Control’ blogger, who writes about Xinjiang culture, mentions in a post late last month a conversation s/he had with the Uighur Online webmasters, retelling the absurdities the staff there went through recently in trying to report one UO user for inflaming racial hatred within the forums, and being kicked around like a football from police department to police department in Beijing and then back to the local internet supervision office, with none of them willing to address the situation.
Not to be mistaken as a sign of authorities’ unwillingness to punish people for alleged hate speech. Uighur Online's attraction was in that it tolerated occasionally offensive and hateful opinions as valid parts of discussion; its closure, aside from being illegal, now only demonstrates the short-sightedness of those responsible. As with any influential blog or BBS forum in China, Uighur Online's administrators were already in theory forced to censor any language which might alarm authorities. Now, all talks are off.