China sentences three to death over Xinjiang unrest

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 12:27am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 12:27am


A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced three people to death and another to 25 years in jail over violent unrest in the ethnically-divided Xinjiang region in which dozens were killed, state media reported.

China labelled the June 26 riots as a “violent terrorist attack”, and reacted by boosting security and vowing to crack down on such incidents.

The Xinhua state news agency said at the time that “knife-wielding mobs” attacked police stations and other sites in Lukqun township, Shanshan county, before officers opened fire, leaving 35 people dead.

In a brief report late Thursday it said a court in Xinjiang “sentenced three persons to death and one person to 25 years in jail for a violent terrorist attack” in Shanshan on that date.

The incident was the deadliest to hit the western desert region – home to around 10 million members of the mostly Muslim Uygur minority – since July 6, 2009, when riots killed around 200 people.

Two days later, in Hotan city more than 1,000 kilometres away, Xinhua said, 100 “terrorists” provoked “riots” and attacked people “after gathering at local religious venues”.

Xinjiang, a region about twice the size of Turkey, is periodically hit by clashes between members of China’s Han majority group and Uygurs, many of whom complain of religious and cultural repression by Chinese authorities.

On August 12 a court in Xinjiang sentenced two “terrorists” to death over an incident in April in which gunfights broke out and 21 people died.

Just over a week later, 22 Uygurs were shot dead according to overseas reports in what state media said was an “anti-terrorism” incident in which a Chinese policeman was also killed.

Violent riots involving Uygurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi in 2009 killed around 200 people, leading the ruling Communist Party to tighten surveillance and boost investment in the region.