China Criminalizes 25 more Uyghurs*
A court in China’s unruly far western region of Xinjiang (East Turkestan) has sentenced 25 more people to jail terms ranging from three years to life for “terror-related offences”, state media said on Tuesday, as the government clamps down on a surge in violence.
China has blamed attacks on separatists in the region, the traditional home of the Muslim Uyghurs people, who, it says, want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.
The official People’s Court Daily said the 25 were all found guilty on charges related to their involvement in organising, leading or participating in terror groups in Xinjiang.
All 25 were Uyghurs, judging by their names.
The paper said they set up an illegal religious group which preached “jihad and other extremist ideologies.”
One of the group was responsible for buying knives and explosive devices and for planning attacks on police posts and government officials, the paper said.
Others were responsible for raising funds for their holy war or helping fugitives flee from justice, it added.
Hundreds of people have died in violence in Xinjiang in the last two years or so, and the past few weeks have seen dozens of people jailed, some at mass public sentencing reminiscent of China’s revolutionary-era rallies.
Exiled Uyghurs groups and human rights activists say the government’s own repressive policies in Xinjiang, including controls on Islam, have provoked unrest.
“In China’s special repressive environment, it is impossible for Uyghurs to receive fair legal help,” said Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the main exile group, the World Uyghur Congress.
“China’s accusations and hefty punishments lack transparency and are used for political aims,” he added, in emailed comments.