Chinese hold first Urumqi executions
10/11/09; China has executed nine people over deadly ethnic unrest in its far-western Xinjiang region, regional authorities said last night, the first executions since the violence in July. “The first group of nine people who were sentenced to death recently have already been executed in succession, with the approval of the Supreme Court,” said a Xinjiang government spokeswoman. According to previous statements by the Xinjiang government, this first group consisted of eight members of the mainly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority and one majority Han Chinese.
The Australian, No Internet Text
China tried and convicted 21 defendants in October — nine were sentenced to death and three were given the death penalty with a two-year reprieve, a sentence usually commuted to life in jail.
The violence erupted on July 5, pitting Uighurs against the Han, leaving 197 dead and more than 1600 injured. Han vigilantes then went on a rampage against Uighurs two days later, but the exact number of casualties from that day has never been divulged.
The 21 were convicted of murder, intentional damage to property, arson, and robbery.
Overseas Uighur activist Dilxat Raxit condemned the executions as motivated by politics and the need to appease Urumqi’s angry Han residents, who marched in the thousands through the city in September.
“We don’t think they got a fair trial, and we believe this was a political verdict,” the World Uighur Congress spokesman said by telephone from Sweden.
“We regret that the US and Europe have not adopted effective measures towards China regarding the death penalty issue. If they don’t continue to put pressure on China, there will definitely be even more Uighurs executed.”
Four months after the violence, Xinjiang remains smothered in heavy security, with Internet access cut and international direct dialing calls blocked.