09/15/2011, 00.00
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Four Uyghurs sentenced to death in Xinjiang

Two others get 19 year in prison. All of them are accused of terrorism, murder and arson. However, Uyghurs say that the police crackdown transformed their peaceful demonstrations into a confrontation. The four sentenced to death were tortured and their lawyers allowed to see them only an hour before their trial.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese authorities have sentenced to death four ethnic Uygur accused of terrorism, but activists believe the condemned did not receive a fair trial.

The four were found guilty on Wednesday for allegedly setting up and running terrorist organisations, illegally making explosives, murder and arson. Two others were jailed for 19 years.

Sentences stem from three terrorist attacks following a harsh crackdown in July by Chinese authorities (see “Xinjiang, Chinese police kill dozens of Uyghurs,” in AsiaNews, 19 July 2011, and “More deaths in Xinjiang, Beijing announces tough measures during Ramadan,” In AsiaNews, 1 August 2011).

Beijing blamed such attacks on “terrorists” but according to the Uyghurs, police violence transformed peaceful demonstrations into clashes with security forces.

A spokesman for the World Uygur Congress, a Germany-based exile group, said that the suspects did not receive a fair trial.

He accuses Chinese authorities of torturing the prisoners and denying them the right to choose their own lawyers. Government assigned attorney were able to meet their clients just an hour before trial.

Beijing continues to justify its iron fist in its westernmost region by accusing the Uyghurs of extremism, separatism and terrorism. For Chinese authorities, local radical Muslims are tied to al Qaeda.

In reality, Uyghurs want political and economic autonomy, accusing Beijing of colonising their region.

The crackdown by China’s central authorities extends to the practice of religion. For instance, minors are not allowed to go to the mosque, whilst imams and Qur‘anic schools are controlled.
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