China jails 11 Uighurs for ‘race hatred and religious extremism ’
Sentencing comes ahead of fourth anniversary of Uighurs-Han Chinese riots in Urumqi
An ethnic Uighur woman walks through the old city of Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region. In April of this year, 21 people were killed in clashes near Kashgar. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images
Courts in the restive Chinese region of Xinjiang have sentenced 11 ethnic Uighurs for up to six years in prison for promoting race hated and religious extremism, part of an ongoing crackdown in the largely Muslim area.
In one case, the suspect went on illegal websites to download material that “whipped up religious fervour and preached ‘holy war’” and “whipped up ethnic enmity”, the state- owned Legal Daily reported.
“This created a despicable effect on society,” the newspaper said, citing the court ruling in the far-western city of Aksu.
In Kashgar, an old Silk Road city where most of the population are Uighurs, an additional eight people were sentenced to between two to five years for creating a public nuisance after breaking into homes and destroying 17 television sets in “a religious frenzy”.
In April, 21 people were killed in clashes near Kashgar. Another suspect was jailed for spreading overseas material online that “advocate religious extremism and terrorism”.
The sentencing comes weeks ahead of the fourth anniversary of riots in which Uighurs turned on Han Chinese in Urumqi – an episode that led to reprisals. The riots left nearly 200 people dead – most of them ethnic Han Chinese – and left more than 1,700 wounded.
Xinjiang’s eight million Turkic-speaking Uighurs are a Turkic Muslim ethnic group that shares close linguistic and cultural links to central Asia and is quite distinct from China’s majority Han. Many feel overwhelmed by Han Chinese influence, a migration they describe as cultural imperialism driven by Beijing. Many have voted with their feet by leaving the country.
The Han Chinese see Xinjiang as an inalienable part of the territory of China, and Beijing blames separatist Uighur Muslims from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, who it says trained in militant camps in Pakistan. The Chinese say they are bringing progress to a backward region and boosting it economically.