China executes 13 for Xinjiang attacks

Human rights group says it is concerned about lack of due process in the trial of those executed.

    China has executed 13 people for "terrorist attacks" in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, state media has said, as death sentences were issued to three others over a suicide car crash at Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

    The country's official Xinhua news agency said on Monday the 13 were involved in seven attacks connected to Xinjiang, home to suspected Muslim Uighurs blamed by Beijing for a string of attacks that have rocked China in recent months.

    With so little information being put out, we are concerned that there is a lack of due process in their trials.

    Greg Fay, Uyghur Human Rights Project

    "In one case, three defendants were convicted of organising and leading terrorists to attack police station, hotel, government office building and other venues, killing 24 police officers and civilians and injuring 23 others," Xinhua said.

    The incident reportedly took place in Shanshan County of Turpan province of Xinjiang on June 26 last year, the report said.  

    Xinhua did not identify the executed by name, but said "all the death penalties have been approved by the Supreme People's Court, as required in China".

    It was not clear if those who were executed were part of the group of Uighurs who were sentenced in a mass trial last May and early June

    The announcement came hours after state media said three people had been sentenced to die over the Tiananmen crash last October.

    The three sentenced to death were convicted of "organising and leading a terrorist group and endangering public security with dangerous methods", according to Xinhua.

    One other person was jailed for life and four others were given prison terms ranging from five to 20 years.

    Beijing has blamed several attacks in the past year on Xinjiang separatists.

    Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists said China's own repressive policies in Xinjiang have provoked the unrest.

    Tension high in Xinjiang after dozens killed

    "All of these sentencing come in the context of a wider crackdown of the Uighurs," Greg Fay, of the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told Al Jazeera. "With so little information being put out, we are concerned that there is a lack of due process in their trials."

    Fay said that in most of the trials, lawyers are not even given access to the defendants.

    The far-western region is the resource-rich homeland of the country's mostly Muslim Uighur minority, and periodically sees ethnic tensions and discontent with the government burst into violence.

    In March a knife assault at a railway station in the southern city of Kunming left 29 dead and 143 wounded.

    Last month 39 people were killed, along with four attackers, and more than 90 wounded when attackers threw explosives and ploughed two off-road vehicles through a crowd at an Urumqi market.

    China claimed the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) and East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), influenced by al-Qaeda, have inspired and even orchestrated the violence.

    Some experts question the influence of the TIP, an organisation that has praised attacks in China but has yet explicitly to claim responsibility for them.

    Chinese courts, which are controlled by the ruling Communist Party and have a near-perfect conviction rate, frequently impose death sentences for terrorism offences.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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