CHINA: UYGHUR STUDENT SENTENCED TO DEATH
December 30, 2010: A 19-year-old Uyghur becomes the second woman sentenced to die following ethnic violence last year, Radio Free Asia reported.
A female Uyghur student in northwestern China was sentenced to death with a two-year suspension following a trial last April on charges of participating in ethnic riots that left hundreds dead, according to a classmate.
Pezilet Ekber became the second Uyghur woman to receive the death penalty in connection to the unrest. Another woman was executed by Chinese authorities earlier this year.
‚ÄúNobody knows what exactly led to Pezilet Ekber receiving such a heavy punishment, other than her ‚Äėinvolvement in violence,‚Äô because the trial was secret and her parents were only just informed of the decision,‚ÄĚ her classmate, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote in a letter.
‚ÄúAfter the trial, her parents were just given the judgment, and were warned to keep silent and to refrain from telling the content of judgment to anyone,‚ÄĚ the letter said.
Pezilet Ekber, 19, had been enrolled in Russian language classes at Xinjiang University in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) capital of Urumqi just before the violence erupted, her classmate wrote.
But she had temporarily left the school because of her family‚Äôs financial difficulties and was working for a Han Chinese-owned business in the city‚Äôs Grand Bazaar as a translator and saleswoman at the time of the riots, the letter said.
Urumqi‚Äôs Grand Bazaar was one of the locations central to Uyghur demonstrations and violence during the July 5, 2009 riots, which left nearly 200 people dead, according to official Chinese estimates.
Pezilet Ekber was arrested two months after the unrest while visiting her parents in her hometown of Suydung, in the XUAR‚Äôs Qorghas [in Chinese, Huocheng] county, Ili prefecture.
In the letter, Pezilet Ekber‚Äôs classmate wrote that the two had met on July 4 last year, and that her friend had no plans to attend the demonstration the following day.
In January, Hayrinsa Sawut, 20, was executed for committing murder during the riots. (Sources: Radio Free Asia, 30/12/2010)