Chinese courts have sentenced 113 people to jail terms ranging from 10 years to life in mainly Uighur Muslim Xinjiang province for terrorism and other charges, according to a government-run news portal.
The tianshan.net website said in a Sunday report that the sentences were handed out last Wednesday by courts in 11 counties and cities in the Kashgar region. It did not identify the ethnicity of the sentenced, but they had Uighur names.
The judges found them guilty of crimes ranging from robbery and drug trafficking to “being involved in organising, leading and participating in a terrorist organisation, inciting ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination”, the report said.
The sentences come after Beijing vowed to crack down on religious and separatist groups, which it blames for a series of violent attacks in Xinjiang.
A suicide bombing last month killed 39 people at a market in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi. In March, 29 people were stabbed to death at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.
At least 380 people have been arrested following the violence.
Exiled Uyghur groups and human rights activists say the government’s policies in Xinjiang, including controls on Islam, have provoked unrest.
There is now a “competitive race” among various areas to arrest and sentence Uyghurs, Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, the largest group of exiled Uyghurs, said in a statement.
“They have trampled on the rights of the defendants to argue and appeal, accusing Uyghurs who are rising against China’s suppression and expressing their dissatisfaction, of being terrorists,” Raxi said.
“It will only lead to extreme forms of resistance when people cannot protest peacefully.”
Xinjiang, resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of central Asia, is crucial to China’s growing energy needs. Analysts say that much of the proceeds have gone to the Han Chinese, stoking resentment among Uighurs.