55 People Sentenced at Mass Trial in Xinjiang

Chinese authorities used a public rally in the violence-hit region of Xinjiang to sentence 55 people on charges including terrorism.
 
The official Xinhua news agency said 7,000 locals and officials witnessed the mass sentencing Tuesday at a stadium in northern Xinjiang's Yili prefecture.
 
At least three people were sentenced to death. Others were jailed for murder, separatism, and organizing or participating in terror groups.
 
At the event, police announced that another 65 people were arrested on similar charges.
 
Yili Deputy Communist Party Chief Li Minghui said the rally demonstrated a "resolute determination" to crack down on what China calls the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.

Trucks carrying criminals and suspects are seen during a mass sentencing rally at a stadium in Yili, Xinjiang, Uighur Autonomous Region on May 27, 2014. /Reuters Trucks carrying criminals and suspects are seen during a mass sentencing rally at a stadium in Yili, Xinjiang, Uighur Autonomous Region on May 27, 2014. /Reuters

Beijing has announced a year-long security crackdown following an attack last week that killed 43 people and wounded more than 90 in the regional capital, Urumqi.
 
That attack was the latest in a series of violent attacks in Xinjiang, which is home to the mainly Muslim Uighur minority group
 
Many Uighurs in China often complain of religious and cultural discrimination.
 
Beijing says the attacks were carried out by violent separatists with backing from overseas, and has promised to crush the low level insurgency.
 
Following the Urumqi attack, armed police carrying submachine guns with bayonets are patrolling at many important roads and intersections in Xinjiang.
 
On Tuesday, authorities detained five people, seized 1.8 metric tons of bomb-making material, and destroyed two explosives-producing sites in the Hotan area of southern Xinjiang.
 
Officials say the Hotan suspects were planning to detonate explosives and ram their cars through crowds -- tactics used in the Urumqi attack.
 
On Monday, China said it broke up 23 terrorist gangs and arrested more than 200 people in three areas of southern Xinjiang.
 
Exiled Uighur groups have said that the crackdown will only further endanger Uighur rights and could worsen the situation.

VOA News / May 29, 2014 08:05 KST