Xinjiang regional courts jail 113 amid terror crackdown

World Uygur Congress says defendants’ rights abused and suppression of peaceful protests will only foster extremism

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 9:46am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 7:25pm

Courts in the far west region of Xinjiang have imprisoned 113 people for terrorism or other charges, according to a government-run news portal.

Regional courts in the Kashgar area held open sessions on Sunday to sentence the 113, including four who received life terms, in 69 cases, Tianshan.net said.

The region, home to Muslim minority Uygurs, has seen a rise in violence in recent months. Most recently, an attack in a vegetable market in the regional capital of Urumqi left 43 dead, including four suspected attackers, prompting Beijing to announce a year-long crackdown on what it calls terrorism in the region.

Beijing blames the violence on religious extremists with ties to overseas terrorism groups. Members of the Uygur minority have long complained of repressive ethnic policies and practices, and economic disenfranchisement in their resource-rich land.

In one case, two defendants were convicted of organising and leading terror groups after they viewed terrorism materials, spread extreme religious thoughts and plotted terror activities, according to Tianshan.net. Both received life imprisonment.

In another case, a man operating a cutlery shop in Kashgar we given a 10-year prison term after he sold two hatchets, two kitchen cleavers and two daggers to a man who used them in an attack that killed two and injured one. The knife vendor destroyed the registration book detailing the sale, and he was convicted of harbouring criminals, Tianshan.net said.

A court also jailed a man for 10 years for forwarding to seven friends private messages believed to incite ethnic hatred and racial discrimination, the news portal reported.

Another three men were sentenced to 10 years for failing to report wanted suspects and trying to cover them up, Tianshan.net said.

Dilxadi Rexiti, spokesman for the Uygur rights group World Uygur Congress, said courts in Xinjiang are in a political race to sentence Uygurs to jail terms amid the crackdown.

“They have trampled on the rights of the defendants to argue and appeal, accusing Uygurs who are rising against China’s suppression and expressing their dissatisfaction of being terrorists,” he said.

“It will only lead to extreme forms of resistance when people cannot protest peacefully.”