East Turkestan: Uyghur American Association Strongly Condemns Executions
Following the execution of 9 men in Urumchi, who were convicted on charges connected with deadly unrest there in July 2009, The Uyghur American Association has released a statement strongly condemning the execution and expressing concern about politicized judicial proceedings and a lack of transparency in the trials.
Below is an article published by Uyghur American Association:
The Uyghur American Association (UAA) condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the executions of nine men in Urumchi, the regional capital of East Turkestan. Chinese state media announced the executions on November 9, 2009 of the men, eight Uyghurs and one Chinese, who were convicted on charges connected with deadly unrest in Urumchi on July 5, 2009. According to reports, the men were not allowed a final visit with their family members prior to their execution. The trials of the nine men were marked by politicized judicial proceedings and a lack of transparency. The exact date of the executions remains unclear.
The official China News Service reported that the death sentences had been approved by China’s Supreme People’s Court. However, as reported by Amnesty International, the Supreme Court review process “is aimed more at ensuring that procedures have been followed correctly, rather than determining the facts of the case.”
“The executions of these men exacerbate the terror and helplessness of Uyghurs in East Turkestan whose friends and loved ones have been killed and detained since July 5,” said Uyghur democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer. “They add to the unknown number of Uyghurs who were already killed on July 5 and in detention following July 5, and I fear that the executions and killings of Uyghurs will continue as China begins an intensified drive to “strike hard” against the Uyghur people. The fact that Chinese authorities had the audacity to carry out these executions on the eve of President Barack Obama’s visit to China displays their utter disregard for international human rights standards. However, Chinese authorities must be held to account for their actions, or tensions in East Turkestan will worsen even further. I ask the international community to press for a full investigation into the killings and detentions of Uyghurs since July 5 in East Turkestan.”
State media also reported that an additional 20 people were indicted on charges of murder and other crimes related to the July 5 unrest. All but two of the 20 people have names that appear to be Uyghur. Two of the names appear to be Chinese.
A heavy military presence has blanketed Urumchi and other cities in East Turkestan since July 5. Reports indicate that authorities implemented a heavy-handed security crackdown after July 5, which particularly targeted the predominantly Uyghur cities of Ghulja, Kashgar and Hotan. The crackdown appears to have been aimed at preventing potential protests in these cities against the government brutality in Urumchi.
The nine men whose executions were announced on November 9 were among 21 convicted and sentenced in connection with the July 5 unrest. Their trials, which did not adhere to standards of domestic or international law, were hampered by state-sanctioned threats towards lawyers not to represent Uyghur suspects, and both prosecutors and judges in East Turkestan had received instructions from Party authorities regarding the handling of cases related to July 5. Political criteria were used to select judicial personnel assigned to handle the trials. Urumchi Communist Party secretary Li Zhi, at a press conference on July 8, stated that executions would be used to deal with those involved in the unrest. According to an Apple Daily report cited by UAA on November 4, Uyghur prosecutors initially selected to preside over July 5 cases were removed from their duties because of alleged ethnic bias.
East Turkestan remains cut off from the rest of the world through state-imposed phone and Internet restrictions. International telephone communication has been stopped, and a blackout on Internet use has forced business owners and netizens with the means to do so to travel to Dunhuang in neighboring Gansu Province for Internet access. Bloggers have reported that Uyghurs are restricted from Internet access in Internet cafés throughout China. Some Uyghurs living abroad were previously able to contact relatives in East Turkestan by first calling a friend or relative in eastern China who then connected their call to East Turkestan, but this method of communication has now been cut off by Chinese authorities. The transmission of cell phone text messages has also reportedly been limited to messages from Communist Party authorities to residents of East Turkestan.
In September, authorities in East Turkestan approved a law criminalizing talk of “separatism” on the Internet, following the ramping up of local anti-separatism legislation in July. Chinese officials, rather than investigating the root causes of the unrest rocking the region, blamed the violence in East Turkestan on the World Uyghur Congress and its president Rebiya Kadeer.
More than 130,000 troops were reportedly deployed to East Turkestan from other regions of China in a bid to restore order and crack down on the Uyghur population after July 5. An untold number of Uyghurs have been swept up in "enforced disappearances" in Urumchi, Kashgar and other cities since July 5, in large-scale sweep operations and targeted raids.
Chinese officials recently detained Uyghur journalist Hairat Niyaz on suspicion of “endangering state security”, which his family believes is due to interviews he gave to foreign media organizations about the July 5 unrest. In addition to writing for state media publications, Niyaz was a manager and editor of the “Uighur Online” website (http://www.uighurbiz.cn), whose founder, Ilham Tohti, was also jailed for a period of time following July 5. Tohti reported that Niyaz was taken from his home in Urumchi on October 1.
Other Uyghurs who have publicized information about police abuses, such as two men living in Qorghas County who told Radio Free Asia about the death of a Uyghur detainee in police custody, have also been detained.
"Strike hard" campaign indicates stepped-up drive to round up, intimidate
Regional court’s approval of death penalty and other punishments in July 5
cases demonstrates rigidity, political motivation of Chinese judicial
UAA condemns lengthy prison sentences for 19 Ghulja men convicted of
“endangering state security” in connection with July 5 unrest
Politicized verdicts for six Uyghur defendants given death sentences