Racial rioters in China executed

19 October 2009

A Chinese court in Xinjiang province has ruled that six men should face execution for their role in the regional ethnic riots that took place in July of this year. A seventh man also faces life imprisonment, a mitigated sentence gained by an admission of his crimes and his help in the arrest of one among the other six.

Abdukerim Abduwayit, Gheni Yusup, Abdulla Mettothi, Adil Rozi, Nureli Wuxiu’er, and Alim Metyusup were all officially charged with murder, as well as an assortment of various other crimes including arson and robbery. Though the ethnicities of the charged men were not formally disclosed by the authorities, their names undeniably suggest that they are Uighurs, and so members of the major Muslim ethnic group in Xinjiang.

The trial took place on Monday in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province. The charges against the sentenced men are related to the large-scale riots that occurred between Han and Uighur ethnic groups earlier this year. The riot began as a non-violent protest against the deaths of two Uighur workers in a southern Chinese factory, but soon escalated into the worst ethnic clash in recent memory, with thousands involved and many injured, with immense damage to property, and almost two hundred dead over an eventful four days. The cause of that escalation is unclear, with conflicting reports on whether the police or the protestors were responsible for the initial use of force.

The events and context that framed and preceded the trial bear similarities to the Tibetan riots of 2008, both with respect to the nature of the incidents and the way the Chinese government handled them.

In any case, hundreds were arrested in the aftermath, and according to Xinhua, the official Chinese state press, 21 people have been charged.

That leaves 14 accused who are yet to stand trial for involvement in the incident. The trial on Monday, however, was the first legal judgment regarding the July riots. Immediately prior to the trial security forces in the region were heavily increased.

Nat Rudarakanchana – Deputy International News Editor