Court Sentences Five in Xinjiang Violence
A court in Xinjiang has sentenced two people to death and ordered lengthy prison sentences to three others for their role in a deadly clash with police in April, according to Reuters:
A court in the southern city of Kashgar found the five defendants, all of whom appeared to be Uighurs judging by their names, to be guilty of crimes including involvement in terrorism and intentional homicide, the Xinjiang government said in a statement on its news site (www.tianshannet.com).
Two defendants were given nine-year jail sentences.
The Xinjiang government did not name any group responsible for the violence, but China has blamed previous incidents in energy-rich Xinjiang – on the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India – on Islamic separatists who want to establish an independent East Turkestan. [Source]
Tensions in the region have simmered since a 2009 outbreak of deadly riots between Uyghur minorities and ethnic Han Chinese. The Chinese government has attempted to curb Uyghur influence and prevent what it views as the threat of radical Islam on its western frontier, and has sentenced a number of Uyghurs to jail on extremist and separatist charges in recent months. The Chinese government often calls violent incidents in Xinjiang terrorist attacks.
The New York Times’ Chris Buckley has more on the April incident:
The bloodshed that brought the convictions broke out in April in a village near the historic bazaar town of Kashgar. At the time, state news media called the perpetrators “gangsters.” But the Kashgar court gave a different account, describing the accused as militants inspired by extremist literature and broadcasts from abroad.
The five defendants and other accomplices “printed a large number of reactionary books promoting religious extremism and violent terror, and purchased supplies to undertake training in capabilities to undertake terror,” said the Tianshan report, citing the court verdict.
In April, community watch workers came across a room used by the defendants and their associates and reported their suspicions to the police. Fearing exposure, the men used machetes and axes to attack the community workers and police officers.
Three community workers were killed in the attack, and nine police officers and community workers later died after being herded into a house that the militants then burned down, said the report. Three other people were killed as the militants attacked shops and the police, the report said. Six militants were killed during the confrontation, and another died after being captured. [Source]