BEIJING Aug 2 Courts in China's restive far
western region of Xinjiang have jailed 20 people for up to 15
years on charges of terrorism and separatism, state media said
on Thursday, as the heavily Muslim area marks the fasting month
The three courts in the cities of Urumqi, Kashgar and Aksu
also levelled charges of making explosive devices, promoting
religious extremism and plotting "holy war", Communist Party
mouthpiece the People's Daily said on its website
While it did not give the ethnicity of those sentenced,
judging from their names they were all Uighurs, a Muslim
Turkic-speaking people who call Xinjiang home, many of whom
chafe at Beijing's rule and restrictions on their religion and
"A vast amount of evidence shows that the accused criminals
carried out a lot of preparatory work in planning violent terror
activities and set up a formal terror organisation," the report
"They bought, produced and copied mobile transmitters, discs
and publications which promoted separatism, religious extremism
and violent terror and proactively spread them around," it
"Some members of the terror organisation made explosives and
carried out test explosions."
China blamed violence in Xinjiang - strategically located on
the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Central Asia -
on Islamic separatists who want to establish an independent
state of "East Turkestan".
Some Chinese officials have blamed attacks on Muslim
militants trained in Pakistan.
But many rights groups say China overstates the threat to
justify its tight grip on the region.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur
Congress, said the government had politicised the case and used
terrorism as an excuse to punish Uighurs who don't agree with
"The aim is to terrorise Uighurs into abandoning their
rights," he said in an emailed statement.
Beijing has shown no sign of relaxing its control in
Xinjiang, a vast swathe of territory accounting for one-sixth of
China's land mass which holds rich oil, gas and coal deposits.
In July 2009, regional capital Urumqi was rocked by violence
between majority Han Chinese and minority Uighurs that killed
nearly 200 people.
Since the unrest, China has turned its attention to boosting
development in Xinjiang and providing greater job opportunities,
especially for Uighurs, to try to address some of the root
causes of the violence.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)