9 Uighurs over July ethnic riots
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN
BEIJING — Nine Uighurs have been executed for taking
part in ethnic rioting that left nearly 200 people dead
in July, the first suspects put to death in the unrest,
Chinese state media reported Monday.
The nine were put to death recently after a final review
of the verdicts by the Supreme People's Court as
required by law, the official China News Service said,
but gave no specific date or other details.
They had been convicted of murder and other crimes
committed during the riots in the western city of Urumqi
in China's worst ethnic violence in decades.
The timing of the executions was not especially fast for
China, where politically sensitive cases are often
decided in weeks.
Hundreds of people were rounded up in the wake of the
riots, in which Uighurs attacked members of China's Han
ethnic majority on July 5, only to face retaliatory
attacks two days later. Uighurs are a Turkic Muslim
ethnic group linguistically and culturally distinct from
the Han and many resent Beijing's heavy-handed rule in
Xinjiang, their traditional homeland.
China blames the rioting on overseas-based groups
agitating for broader rights for Uighurs in Xinjiang.
Four months after the violence, Xinjiang remains
smothered in heavy security, with Internet access cut
and international direct dialing calls blocked.
The news service said another 20 people were indicted on
Monday on charges related to the deaths of 18 people and
other crimes committed during the riots. All but two of
the prisoners listed in the report had Uighur sounding
names, with the others appearing to be Han.
Overseas Uighur activist Dilxat Raxit condemned the
executions as motivated by politics and the need to
appease Urumqi's angry Han residents, who marched in the
thousands through the city in September to demand trials
of those responsible for the July violence and the
perpetrators of a bizarre series of hypodermic needle
"We don't think they got a fair trial, and we believe
this was a political verdict," said Raxit, who serves as
spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress.
"The United States and the European Union did not put
any pressure on China or seek to intervene and for that
we are extremely disappointed," he said.