China: Uighurs imprisoned for online ‘extremism’

Courts in China’s far western Xinjiang province on June 20 sentenced 11 ethnic Uighurs to up to six years in prison for promoting extremism. Eight of those convicted came from the old Silk Road city of Kashgar, the Justice Ministry’s official newspaper Legal Daily. Although the report did not mention ethnicity, all had Uighur names. In one case, the suspect visited “illegal” websites to download material that “whipped up religious fervor,” “preached ‘holy war'” and “whipped up ethnic enmity.” Another eight received terms of up to 13 years for such crimes as “organizing a terrorist organization.”

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) expressed condemnation at the sentences, noting they were handed down two weeks before the fourth anniversary of deadly unrest that broke out in the regional capital of Urumchi. The UAA called the sentences “a clear signal to Uyghurs across East Turkestan to curb any public commemorative displays of the July 5, 2009 suppression of Uyghur protests.” (Global Times, June 21; BBC News, The GuardianUyghur Human Rights Project, June 20)

  1. New violence in Xinjiang
    A clash after militants attacked police stations and government offices left 27 dead June 26 at Lukqun township, Pichan country, about 200 kilometers from Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi. Assailants armed with knives killed 17 before olice opened fire, Xinhua reports. (UAA, BBC)

  2. More violence in Xinjiang
    More than 100 people, riding motorbikes and wielding knives, attacked a police station in Xinjiang’s remote desert city of Hotan June 28, with at least two shot by police. The attack comes as Beijing has deployed military vehicles and several hundred troops from the People’s Armed Police to Urumqi. The toll in the Lukqun violence days earlier has meanwhile risen to 35. (AFP, June 30; Reuters, June 29)

  3. More violence in Xinjiang
    Accounts are confused over an Aug. 20 incident at Yilkiqi township in Kargilik (Chinese: Yecheng) county, Kashgar prefecture, in which 22 ethnic Uighurs were killed by security forces. Official reports called it a raid on a group involved in “terrorism,” but Uighur exile sourcescited witness accounts that the men were attacked while conducting an “illegal” religious ceremony. Exile sources also report an Aug. 7 police attack on the Peyshenbe Bazaar Mosque in village No. 16, Aykol township, Aksu prefecture, in which three were killed. There have apparently been assive arrests in Xinjiang over the past two months, with hundreds of Uighurs detained for interrogation. (RFA, WUC, Aug. 27; UAA, Aug. 14)