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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

China Executes 9 for Their Roles in Ethnic Riots in July

November 11, 2009

By EDWARD WONG
The New York Times
November 10, 2009

BEIJING -- Nine people have been executed for taking part in ethnic
rioting that convulsed a western regional capital in July and left
nearly 200 people dead, a state news agency reported Monday.

The report by the China News Service did not give any further details
of the executions, except to say that the cases had all been reviewed
by the Supreme People's Court, a legally mandated step in death
penalty cases in China. The report, which was removed from the
Internet early Tuesday, did not say when the executions occurred.

The ethnicity of those executed was unclear. The report simply called
them "criminals." The rioting that broke out in the regional capital,
Urumqi, on July 5 was largely carried out by Uighurs, a
Turkic-speaking people who mostly follow Sunni Islam and are the
biggest ethnic group in the vast Central Asian border region of Xinjiang.

Many Uighurs resent what they call discrimination by Han, the
dominant ethnic group in China; the Chinese government says that 197
people were killed and 1,600 people injured on July 5, most of them Han.

The rioting was the deadliest ethnic clash in China in decades, and
brought into question the viability of China's policies toward the
Uighurs in Xinjiang. The Chinese government blamed Rebiya Kadeer, a
Uighur exile and former businesswoman living in a suburb of
Washington, for the violence. Officials said Ms. Kadeer had urged
Uighurs to take action, but Ms. Kadeer has denied the accusations.

Uighur exile groups say the Chinese government has underreported the
number of Uighurs killed on July 5 and in the days afterward, when
Han vigilantes took to the streets armed with sticks and knives to
seek revenge.

In October, officials announced that 12 convicts had been sentenced
to death in several separate trials. Three of the convicts had their
sentences suspended for two years. Of the 12, all except one had Uighur names.

An appeals court in Urumqi announced on Oct. 30 that it had upheld
the nine immediate death sentences and the prison sentences of 12
other convicts. The death sentences were to be reviewed by the
Supreme People's Court, the government said.

The news on Monday of the nine executions came at the end of the
China News Service report, which led with an announcement that 20
more people had been indicted in a case related to the rioting in
Xinjiang that involved the deaths of 18 people, injuries to 3 others
and property damage amounting to 2.65 million renminbi, or nearly $400,000.

Last Tuesday, a Xinjiang newspaper announced that the local
authorities had started a new "strike hard and punish" campaign to
root out rioters and other so-called terrorist elements.

The region has gone through cycles of "strike hard" campaigns, all
carried out under Wang Lequan, the top-ranking official of the
Communist Party in Xinjiang and a member of the elite Politburo. Mr.
Wang is considered a hard-liner on ethnic minority policy and has
ruled Xinjiang for more than 15 years, an unusually long tenure for
the head of a region or province.

Human rights advocates have criticized the government's handling of
the aftermath of the rioting. In late October, Human Rights Watch
released a report that said 43 Uighur men had disappeared after being
seized by the security forces. The number was probably higher, the
report said, but investigators for Human Rights Watch could
conclusively document only 43 cases while working secretly in the
Xinjiang region. The cases were "serious violations of international
human rights law," the report said.

The rounding up of hundreds of men in Xinjiang and the recent
executions there followed the pattern set by the government after
ethnic rioting and protests by Tibetans in the spring of 2008.

Tibetan exile groups said four Tibetans were executed on Oct. 20 in
Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, for their roles in
the Tibetan uprising. The government says at least 19 people were
killed during the outbreak of violence in Lhasa, most of them ethnic Han.

Xiyun Yang contributed reporting.
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