CHINA: SIX GET DEATH PENALTY ON XINJIANG RIOTS
October 12, 2009: a court in western China's Xinjiang region sentenced six people to death in the first trials over July riots that left nearly 200 people dead, state-run television reported. China Central Television said one other defendant was sentenced to life in prison over the unrest, the worst ethnic violence to hit China in decades. Authorities did not say which ethnic group the seven convicted were from, but their names suggested they were all Uighurs. Abdukerim Abduwayit, Gheni Yusup, Abdulla Mettohti, Adil Rozi, Nureli Wuxiuâ€™r and Alim Metyusup were sentenced to death by the Intermediate Peopleâ€™s Court in Urumqi for homicide, arson and robbery. Tayirejan Abulimit, was given life imprisonment when he confessed to crimes of murder and robbery and assisted police in apprehending one of the suspects, the court said, according a report in State-run Xinhua news agency. Fourteen others will stand trial this week, while no date has yet been fixed for the rest of the 108 who have been charged with crimes. At least 700 others. mostly Uighurs, are still in detention.
The July 2009 riots broke out on July 5 in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and involved at least 1,000 Uyghurs in a protest that escalated into attacks on Han people, China's majority ethnic group, after confrontations with police. The protest march that preceded the riots was ostensibly a response to the deaths of two Uyghur migrant workers on June 26 and the Chinese central government's handling of the case. The two Uighur workers were killed in a factory brawl in southern China, over rumours that a Han factory worker had been raped.
Authorities have detained at least 825 people, mostly Uighurs, over the July riots. In total, officials said that 197 people died, with 1,721 others injured; Uyghur groups, on the other hand, say the death toll is higher. The Chinese central government has said most of the 197 deaths were Han Chinese. Authorities have claimed that the riots themselves were planned from abroad by the World Uyghur Congress (WUC); Rebiya Kadeer, its president, denied the charges. (Sources: The Hindu, 10/10/2009; AFP, 12/10/2009)