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A lost soldiers' cemetery in NW China

08-18-2011 08:41 BJT

Li Zhilong, a retired veteran, salutes in front of a tomb at a desolate soldiers' cemetery
in Huiyuan town, Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur
autonomous region, Aug 8, 2011. The cemetery has 67 tombs of soldiers - Li's comrades in
arms - who sacrificed their lives during service in a regiment that was dispatched to
help the development of the town in 1950. Most of them died from overwork and tough
conditions. The regiment reclaimed a lot of wasteland during that time. In 1997, family
members of General Liu Guanghan, the colonel of the regiment, following Liu's will, buried
half of his ashes in this cemetery, but did not set up a tombstone until 2010. Meanwhile,
the cemetery became a piece of wildland without proper maintenance and was almost forgotten
by the local young people. Some tombstones suffered serious damage, making it hard to
recognize the names on them, and some were lost altogether. An uneven small path is the
only access to this cemetery, where garbage and animal feces can be seen everywhere. A plan
to renovate the cemetery was proposed by local government and is awaiting approval.

Li Zhilong finds a broken tombstone among the wild grass in a desolate soldiers' cemetery
in Huiyuan town, Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur
autonomous region, Aug 8, 2011.[Photo/CFP]

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