Author: By Christopher Bodeen in Beijing
The defendants were the first to be put to death for their roles in the violence on 5 July, when members of the Uighur minority rampaged through the streets of Urumqi, in Xinjiang province, attacking members of the majority Han Chinese community. Two days later, mobs of Han Chinese took to the streets in revenge.
The verdicts against the nine were reviewed by the Supreme People’s Court as required under Chinese law, and the sentences have been carried out. State media gave no details as to when the convicts were executed or how they were put to death.
Courts in Urumqi have previously sentenced nine others to death, eight of them Uighurs and one Han Chinese. All were convicted of murder and arson. Officials say 197 people died and 1,700 were injured during the violence in Urumqi, which was triggered by Uighur resentment of Beijing rule and an influx of Han Chinese to the region.
The official China News Service said another 20 people were indicted yesterday on charges related to the deaths of 18 people and other crimes committed during the riots. All but two of the prisoners listed have Uighur sounding names, with the others appearing to be Han.
Dilxat Raxit, an exiled Uighur activist, condemned the executions as motivated by politics and the need to appease Urumqi’s Han residents, who marched in the thousands through the city in September to demand trials of those responsible for the July riots.
“We don’t think they got a fair trial and we believe this was a political verdict,” said Mr Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, based in Germany. “The US and the EU did not put any pressure on China or seek to intervene and for that we are extremely disappointed.”
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