China Sentences 3 Webmasters of Uighur Sites

The New York Times reports on the sentencing of three Uighur webmasters:

Three men accused of “endangering state security” for their role in maintaining popular Uighur-language Web sites have been sentenced to prison terms of 3 to 10 years, according to exile groups and court officials.

The sentences, the outcome of a one-day trial last week, are the latest indication that Beijing is intensifying its crackdown on any dissent that questions Chinese rule in Xinjiang, the far western region where ethnic rioting last summer killed nearly 200 people, many of them Han Chinese whose growing numbers have stoked resentment among Uighurs.

Each of the accused men was the webmaster of a different site, all of which were shut down in the days after the unrest began in Urumqi, the regional capital. The three Web sites largely accommodated discourse in Uighur, a Turkic language.

Friends and family members of the three convicted webmasters say they were prosecuted for failing to quickly delete content that openly discussed the difficulties of life in Xinjiang and, in one case, for allowing users to post messages announcing the protests last summer that turned violent. Although the government maintains armies of paid censors, those who run Internet forums are ultimately responsible for removing so-called politically sensitive content.

The sentencing comes amidst news of a 15 year sentencing for Uighur journalist Heyrat Niyaz. Read more about the possible reasoning behind recent harsh sentences in Xinjiang at Far West China.


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