Chinese death penalty targets minorities
The Chinese authorities recently executed nine people accused of taking part in riots in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region in July 2009 – eight Uyghurs and one Han Chinese man. They thus ignored the World Coalition’s calls for an “open, independent, transparent, fair and impartial investigation”.
Chinese officials on November 9 confirmed that the executions had taken place, without saying when. Xinjiang’s higher court had upheld the death sentences on October 30. The obligatory pre-execution review of the nine cases by China’s Supreme Court therefore took place in nine days or less.
According to Amnesty International, the defendants were tried secretly in less than one day and were denied free legal representation. “In hastily executing these individuals after unfair trials, the Chinese authorities are perpetuating some of the very injustices that helped trigger the outburst of violence in the first place,” said Roseann Rife, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific programme.
The Swedish presidency of the European Union, too, criticised the executions. As more people face execution in the wake of the Xinjiang riots, it said in a statement: “The EU calls on China to review urgently the cases of those who remain under sentence of death for their alleged involvement in this year’s unrest and for their sentences to be commuted.”
The EU also slammed the execution of two Tibetans in connection with last year’s ethnic violence in Lhasa. An unknown number of Tibetans have reportedly been executed since the riots took place. The Chinese authorities have refused to give information about those executions.
Photo: Urumqi, 8 July2009, by Remko Tanis