SHANGHAI DAILY, RADIO TELEVISION HONG KONG (China), RADIO FREE ASIA (USA)
On Thursday, Chinese courts sentenced 20 people for terrorist and separatist crimes in Xinjang, a resource-rich autonomous region in northwest China, which is home to the Muslim Uyghur ethnic group. Chinese authorities have stepped up security against the ethnic minority since July.
Radio Television Hong Kong reports courts in Xinjiang jailed 20 people for terrorism and separatism, as well as making explosives, promoting religious extremism and plotting holy war. The RTHK adds that while the ethnicity of those sentenced was not given, judging from their names they were all Muslim Uyghurs, many of whom oppose China's rule and restrictions on their religion and culture.
According to state newspaper Shanghai Daily, the 20 radicals were part of five terrorist groups who spread separatism on the Internet and plotted violent attacks in an attempt to split the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from China. They were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 18 months to 15 years for terrorist activities -- including publishing books and videos containing violence to incite ethnic hatred and provoke a holy war against China. Four people were accused of making bombs.
In July, reports the Shangaiist website, the Xinjiang government issued directives banning Muslim officials and students from fasting and making visits to mosques during the holy month of Ramadan: "It is forbidden for Communist Party cadres, civil officials (including those who have retired) and students to participate in Ramadan religious activities."
According to Radio Free Asia, Chinese authorities imposed a security clampdown in major cities in Xinjiang on July 5 -- the third anniversary of the 2009 ethnic violence between Uyghurs and Han Chinese that killed nearly 197 people and injured hundreds more. Following the violence, China had ramped up its anti-terrorism campaign in the resource-rich region, where Uyghurs say they are subjected to political control and persecution for seeking meaningful autonomy in their homeland, and are denied economic opportunities stemming from Beijing's rapid development, says Radio Free Asia.
Uyghurs Elbowed Out of Homeland: World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer says Uyghurs facing ‘cultural genocide." bit.ly/OFZrCm— RadioFreeAsia (@RadioFreeAsia) July 25, 2012