Kunming railway station attack

Xinjiang jails 39 for 'inciting holy war, spreading terrorism'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 3:51am

Courts in Xinjiang have jailed dozens of people in a special operation to curb the spread of audios and videos inciting terrorism, the Xinjiang Higher People's Court said yesterday.

In statements posted to its official microblog, the court said 39 people were sentenced to prison terms on Tuesday after being convicted of crimes including organising and leading terrorist groups, inciting ethnic hatred, ethnic discrimination and the illegal manufacturing of guns.

The troubled region in the nation's far west, home to more than 10 million Turkic-speaking Uygur Muslims, has seen a surge in violent protests against Beijing's rule. Assailants targeted civilians in a suicide attack outside a train station in the capital, Urumqi, last month. Three people died, including two suspected attackers.

Beijing blames the violence on secession-seeking terrorists and has vowed a severe crackdown.

Among those convicted on Tuesday was 25-year-old Maimaitiniyazi Aini, who received five years in prison for inciting ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination for comments he made in six chat groups involving 1,310 people, the court said.

In another case, a Uygur man was jailed for 15 years after he preached jihad, or holy war, to his son and another young man, according to the court.

"Violent terrorism has become a major threat to ethnic unity and social stability in Xinjiang," the court said in a statement.

"We must eliminate from the root the soil where violent terrorist thoughts should grow by severely cracking down on the criminal activities of spreading terrorism audios and video."

Critics and human rights watchers have said Beijing's suppressive ethnic, cultural and religious policies have bred dissatisfaction and anger among the Uygurs.

Some say the marginalised Uygurs are more vulnerable to extremist thoughts.