East Turkestan: Uyghur Executions Condemned
The following statement is from the World Uyghur Congress (WUC). UNPO fully supports the WUC in its important work.
The World Uyghur Congress condemns the recent execution of eight Uyghurs on August 23, 2014, as reported by Chinese state media. The report comes on the heels of a significant increase in similar sentences without due process of law and few, if any, details released concerning their actual offences. It has become increasingly common for Chinese authorities to conduct trials and sentence Uyghur suspects exceedingly quickly, with no chance for a full and proper investigation or appeals process. The WUC strongly urges the international community and international media to raise significant concern over the objectionable and callous use of the judicial system in China and to call on the Chinese government to stop arbitrary detention, arrest and sentencing of Uyghurs without due process. The Chinese government must be transparent when dealing with these incidents.
The story was first reported on August 23, 2014, by Chinese state media, labelling those convicted as "terrorists", whose crimes remain unclear with no substantive proof that they had any connection with the crimes to which they have been accused. Three Uyghur were accused of masterminding an attack on Tiananmen Square in late October of 2013, though very few details have ever been released about the incident. Xinhua news agency also noted that five other people were put to death for supposed crimes ranging from "listen[ing] and watch[ing] religious extremist audio-visual materials" to "leading [a] terrorist organization and jeopardizing public security with dangerous means". Other dubious charges relating to "illegal religious activities" strongly suggests that state restrictions on religious freedom in East Turkestan remain pervasive and endemic to the judicial process. No detailed information has yet been released concerning these cases as the state remains the exclusive source. Independent investigations are nearly impossible.
China remains the world leader in the use of the death penalty, executing more people than any country last year combined. Executions rose from 682 in 2012 to 778 in 2013, according to Amnesty International, suggesting that China continues to move against the overwhelming trend away from its practice. Although Amnesty's estimates are based on factual information taken from inside the country, many have suggested that the real figure is likely much higher.
The past few months have seen a rapid escalation in arbitrary arrests, detentions, sentencing and extra-judicial killing of Uyghurs under China's most recent one-year strike hard campaign in East Turkestan, aimed ostensibly at combatting 'terrorism'. In reality, police and military have been deployed to stifle any form of expression, assembly or dissent by the Uyghur in the region. The international media has reported on the recent mass sentencing in East Turkestan and has described it as "reminiscent of China's revolutionary-era rallies", if not worse. Public trials like these are designed with the express intent of intimidating and instilling fear in the pubic in a supposed attempt to improve regional stability. Stability can only suffer under these policies, as they only serve to intensify animosity between Uyghurs and the government.
China continues to fail to address the root causes of the ethnic tension in the region, opting to further restrict freedoms and violently crackdown on and anything it perceives a threat. Recurrent news of similar abhorrent practices has unfortunately become the norm in East Turkestan, something which the WUC vehemently condemns. Tensions in the region have only been exacerbated by the Chinese government's ongoing violent and brutal crackdown and its unacceptable and disproportionate use of police and military force over the past month in particular.
The WUC therefore urges the international community to take notice of the deteriorating situation in East Turkestan and pressure the Chinese government to stop arbitrary detention, sentencing and the extra-judicial killing of Uyghurs, and practice full transparency and respect international standards of due process in all criminal and judicial cases.