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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

China Executes Two Uighurs, Jails 16 on Charges of Separatism

The Uyghur Information Agency (UIA), a diaspora news website sponsored by the Uyghur American Association, carries a news report apparently coming from AFP that China has executed two Uygurs, sentenced two to life imprisonment and a further 14 for periods of between five and twenty years in Aksu. Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

If this report is true ( I have yet been able to verify the source) these executions bring to four the number of Uygurs executed by China in the last seven weeks, these two in Aksu County and the others happening in June and July.

The report quotes a Ma Lin, a deputy director of the court in Shaya County,where the defendants lived, as saying the men were members of East Turkestan People`s Party and were sentenced on July 21 by the Intermediate People`s Court in Aksu city. He is further quoted as confirming that the execution orders have been carried out.

The World Uighur Congress (UWC) an Uygur diaspora umbrella group based in Germany is also quoted as saying

"the defendants were charged with illegally organizing a political party,
using armed tactics to split the country, concealing guns, ammunition and
explosives, and illegally producing, buying and selling as well as
transporting weapons and explosives"

The two executed men were identified by the UWC as being Akmed Tash, president of the group, and Lokman Mamet the group's treasurer. (P.s. Note later reports to hand name those executed as Aihe Maititashi and Luoheman Maimaiti )

The report also claims that a Han Chinese reporter from the local Aksu Daily newspaper Gong Xise as stating that the the East Turkestan People`s Party "is one of many such terrorist groups in this area," adding that one of the 18 sentenced was trained in Afghanistan and had fought against American troops and then returned to China from Afghanistan and that the group had "..participated in setting off explosions, kidnapping and robbery and other terrorists activities,". This claim has not been collaborated.

The number of Uygur executions had decreased markedly from the period January 1997 through to the end of 1999 when Amnesty International claims a majority of the 210 persons sentenced to death in Xinjiang were Uygurs and most related to the Gulja (Yining) riots of February 1997 and the resultant Chinese crackdown on the Uygur population.

The execution rate of Uygurs for charges of separatism and terrorism had slowed markedly co-incident with the Beijing Olympics bid and the coming to power of the Hu/Wen government and there was some hope that Beijing's hardline may have softened with the new generation leadership, In 2003 for example only two Uygur executions were openly reported by the Chinese government.

To have four in the space of six weeks is certainly a sign of a change in attitude in Beijing back to a more hardline approach and is indicative of an overall firmer stance being taken by Beijing of late towards its "separation" concerns namely Taiwan, Tibet Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

As for the alleged existence of an East Turkistan People's Party I have not heard of them and the charges against the men are stock standard charges brought against most Uygur "separatists/terrorists".

Strangely the Chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region was quoted only recently as saying that there had been no instances of terrorism/separatism or acts of violence in Xinjiang for some years but now we have Four executed and 16 sentenced for what must be considerable "crimes".

Uyghur Information Agency - China Executes Two Out Of 18 Muslim Uighurs Convicted Of Separatism

P.S. This story is now being run by several news agencies including Reuters so it is out of unverified status

Amnesty International Report relating to this incident