Jail terms imposed on Uighurs for syringe attacks


SENTENCES OF between seven and 15 years in prison have been imposed on three Uighurs for a series of syringe attacks that caused widespread panic and civil unrest in western China’s restive Xinjiang region.

Tens of thousands of Han Chinese took to the streets earlier this month to protest that the government was not doing enough to protect their safety.

More than 500 people in Urumqi have reported being attacked, although state media said only about 100 showed evidence of being pricked with needles.

The assaults have ratcheted up tensions in Urumqi almost two months after riots in July left dead and highlighted rifts between the Uighurs, a mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group that is the largest in Xinjiang at 45 per cent of the population, and the Han Chinese, the majority group in China that holds nearly all the important positions of power in Xinjiang.

None of the reported victims of the needle attacks has suffered from illness, poisoning or other any after-effect. Officials and state media have blamed the rioting and attacks on separatists trying to destroy ethnic unity.

In one of Of the sentences handed down, Yilipan Yilihamu (19) was jailed for 15 years for what the Xinhua news agency reported was “attacking with hyped toxic substances”, after he injected a hypodermic needle into a woman’s buttock at a roadside fruit stall on August 28th.

In a separate trial in the same court, Muhutaerjiang Turdi (34) and Aimannisha Guli (22) were given 10 and seven years respectively for robbing a taxi driver with a syringe on August 29th.

Many Uighurs say they are the victims of decades of Chinese oppression and unwanted immigration of millions of ethnic Han. However, the Chinese say they are bringing prosperity and stability to the resources-rich province.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, hundreds of journalists, parliamentarians and residents marched to protest the alleged police beatings of three reporters covering recent unrest in Xinjiang, and demanded a government investigation.