Xinjiang death sentences justified: academics
AFPBEIJING--Death sentences for two men over violence in China's ethnically divided western region of Xinjiang earlier this year were justified, official media on Tuesday quoted academics as saying.
August 14, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
The Intermediate People's Court in Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture sentenced Musa Hesen and Rehman Hupur to die for crimes including murder and taking part in a “terrorist group,” the Xinhua News Agency reported late Monday.
China blamed the April 23 violence that left 21 people dead on “terrorists,” a charge rights groups say is often used to justify the authorities' use of force against members of the mostly Muslim Uyghur minority.
Xinjiang, a region more than four times the size of Japan, is 46 percent Uyghur and 39 percent Han, China's dominant ethnic group, official figures show.
Many Uyghurs complain of religious and cultural repression by Chinese authorities, and the region is regularly hit by unrest.
“Upholding laws during our fight against terrorism helps people at home and abroad get a clearer understanding about terrorist threats in Xinjiang,” Li Wei said according to the Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with China's ruling Communist Party.
It described him as an expert on anti-terrorism at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
Turgunjan Tursun, a research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Science, asserted that the violence was unrelated to ethnic, religious or political issues, according to the paper.
“No matter what banner (the terrorists carry) or slogan (they use), violent attacks are against the law,” Tursun told the paper.
“We must punish the crime in accordance with the law, and the sentence was a demonstration of that.”
Hesen was accused of leading the group and manufacturing explosives.
Another three men accused of belonging to the group were given prison sentences ranging from nine years to life, Xinhua reported.
All of the defendants reportedly confessed to their crimes in court.
A total of 19 suspects were arrested after the April incident in Kashgar's Bachu county, which saw gunfights break out.
Fifteen police and community workers and six “terrorists” were killed.