China to Execute Uighurs for Xinjiang Unrest

Chinese authorities sentenced on Monday, October 12, six Uighurs to death over deadly unrest in the northwestern Muslim-majority Xinjiang region in July, delivering on a vow of harsh retribution.

“Members of our family were in court today. We are very pleased with this verdict,� a nephew of one of the victims told The Times.

“We hope this is the first step to bringing all these criminals to punishment.�

The Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court put seven men on trial this morning for their roles in the July.

The trials, in three courtrooms, resulted in convictions of all defendants whose names suggest they are members of the Muslim Uighur community.

Abdukerim Abduwayit was convicted of beating five innocent people to death and setting a building on fire.

Gheni Yusup was found guilty of leading Abdulla Mettohti, Adil Rozi and Nureli Wuxiu’er in beating four people to death and injuring another.

Tayirejan Abulimit was slapped with the lesser life imprisonment, a show of leniency, after confessing to murder and robbery and helping police capture the other suspect, Alim Metyusup.

The unrest, which ravaged the Muslim-majority western region in July, was sparked by the killing of two Uighur men in a brawl at a toy factory.

Frustrated Uighurs took to the streets of the regional capital Urumqi protesting the lack of justice, Chinese restrictions and the settlement of Han Chinese in their region.

Clashes with the Han Chinese minority turned bloody, leaving 197 people dead and more than 1,600 injured, according to the government.

Unfair

Xinjiang regional government spokesman Li Jie confirmed all seven men were Muslim Uighurs.

He told the Voice of America it is hard to say how ordinary people will react and whether the sentences would stir up more violence in Xinjiang.

Dilxat Rixit, with the World Uighur Congress, dismissed the sentences as unfair, complaining that the defendants did not receive a proper defense.

Chinese authorities had tightened up security ahead of the trials and up to 14,000 security forces were deployed in the regional capital to operate 24-hour patrols.

Urumqi has been under extremely heavy security since the unrest, described as some of China's worst ethnic violence in decades.

Xinjiang and its Uighur Muslims, a Turkish-speaking minority of more than eight million, continue to be the subject of massive security crackdowns.

The Muslim minority accuses the government of settling millions of ethnic Han in their territory with the ultimate goal of obliterating its identity and culture.

They also cite a recent government plan that has brought the teaching of Mandarin Chinese in Xinjiang schools, replacing their local dialect.

In its 2008 human rights report, the US State Department accused China of severe repression in Xinjiang.

China | Politics | 2009-10-13 |