Authorities in China’s Xinjiang region have executed nine people for their role in July’s ethnic unrest which left at least 197 people dead.
The State-run China News Service reported on Monday that nine people were executed for murder, arson and other crimes in connection with the violence. On July 5, riots broke out in the city of Urumqi between Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority group native to Xinjiang, and Han Chinese, China’s majority ethnic group. The violence left at least 197 people dead and more than 1,700 injured, most of who were Han Chinese targeted by Uighur mobs.
Xinjiang has seen intermittent tension between Uighurs and Hans who have migrated to the region in large numbers in recent years. The Chinese government has blamed exiled Uighur separatist groups for orchestrating the violence. Uighur groups say repressive government policies that have led to inequalities between the two groups are part of the reason for the unrest.
Official reports on Monday did not specify whether those executed were Uighurs or Hans, but earlier reports of the trials suggest eight Uighurs in the group of nine.
Trials began in October for 21 suspects charged in connection with the violence. Twelve of them were given the death sentence, three of whom were given a two-year reprieve. Authorities have detained at least 825 people, mostly Uighurs, following July’s unrest, and 108 have so far been charged with crimes.
China News Service reported that 20 others had been indicted on Monday in connection with the murder of 18 people during the riots.
Local authorities have promised to come down on those found guilty, and many are likely to receive the death sentence. Authorities in Xinjiang have released little information on the on-going judicial process. No date has yet been fixed for the trials of those charged with crimes. The fate of hundreds who are in detention and still have not been charged with crimes remains unknown.
Human rights groups have called on authorities to improve transparency in the judicial process, and have also accused authorities of illegally detaining dozens of people in Urumqi. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said all those detained would be tried in accordance with the law.