BEIJING- Courts in China’s ethnically-divided Xinjiang, home to mainly Muslim Uighurs, have sentenced 113 people to jail on mostly terrorism-related offences, state-run media said, as authorities press a crackdown following several deadly attacks.
Four suspects were sentenced to life in prison, while 109 others were given sentences for crimes ranging from “organising and leading terrorist groups” to “bigamy and drug dealing”, Xinjiang’s government web portal Tianshan said late Sunday.
Beijing has vowed a year-long nationwide crackdown on terrorism after attackers killed 39 people in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi last month, one of several high-profile attacks blamed on militants from the far-western region.
In recent months they have spread beyond Xinjiang, and targeted ordinary citizens rather than government or security personnel.
Exile groups say unrest has been fueled by cultural oppression and intrusive state security measures, along with immigration by China’s Han ethnic majority, which they say has led to decades of discrimination and economic inequality.
China says it grants Uighurs broad religious freedoms and has raised living standards.
The latest sentencing, held in the city of Kashgar on Wednesday, were “public”, Tianshan said, following a series of rallies in the region which have seen suspects paraded in front of crowds.
The report did not state the ethnicities of those sentenced, but names provided suggested they were Uighurs.
Two men found guilty of “viewing terrorist videos” and “organising terrorist training” and were sentenced to life in prison, the report said.
One of the suspects was jailed for 10 years for receiving messages from “foreign terrorist organizations” and sharing them with seven others using the mobile messaging platform Wechat, it added.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the overseas-based World Uyghur Congress, condemned the sentencing.
“Announcing verdicts in public places tramples on the rights of the accused and will only lead to more protest and extreme forms of resistance,” he said.