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Chinese court sentence 6 to death for Xinjiang riot
Beijing, Oct 15 (Agencies):
Published on 15 Oct. 2009 10:47 PM IST
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A Chinese court has sentenced a further six people to death over ethnic unrest in the far-western region of Xinjiang in July, state-run media report. Nearly 200 people were killed during riots between ethnic Uighurs and members of China's dominant Han group. The six were among 21 people who have been tried this week on charges including murder, robbery and arson. Twelve people have been sentenced to death over the riots while another nine got life sentences or lesser terms. The six were sentenced to death at a court in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, Xinhua news agency said. Three of the sentences were suspended for two years, meaning they could be later commuted to life sentences. Another three life sentences were handed down while five other people received lesser sentences, Xinhua said. Activists have condemned the trials as a sham, saying they have lacked transparency and fairness. Uighurs in exile have said the sentences were likely to further inflame tensions in the area bordering Central Asia. A protest by Uighurs in Urumqi erupted into violence on 5 July, leaving at least 197 people killed and another 1,700 injured. Shops were smashed and vehicles set alight and passers-by set upon by Uighur rioters in the city, whose population is mostly Han. Two days later, groups of Han went looking for revenge as police struggled to restore order. Most of those killed were Han, according to officials, and Urumqi's Han population had demanded swift justice. Hundreds of people were detained after the violence and 21 people have now been convicted. From the names of the convicted released by Xinhua, six appeared to be Uighur while one man sentenced to death - Han Junbo - appeared to be Han. Tensions between the mainly-Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang and Han have been growing in recent years. Millions of Han have moved to the region in recent decades. Many Uighurs want more autonomy and rights for their culture and religion - Islam - than is allowed by Beijing's strict rule. According to a government white paper on Xinjiang, released last month, the July riots were caused by Uighur separatists promoting an independent "East Turkestan". The exiled World Uighur Congress says Beijing exaggerates the threat to justify harsh controls. There have been a number of bombings and other attacks over the years in the region that authorities have blamed on separatists.

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