China: Halt death sentences against Uighurs


3rd December 2009

China: Halt death sentences against Uighurs

China’s supreme court must carefully review reported death sentences
imposed today on five individuals by a court in the Xinjiang Uighur
Autonomous Region (XUAR) of northwest China. 

Thirteen people were sentenced by the court in the city of Urumqi, in
connection with deadly violence that erupted after a police crackdown on
Uighur protesters on 5 July. 

Five of these were sentenced to death, and another two were sentenced to
life imprisonment. 

Tomorrow another five cases are due to be tried in connection with the

"We urge the Court to ensure that the defendants who are to be tried
tomorrow receive a fair trial, legal counsel of their choice and are not
subject to the death penalty," said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s
Deputy Asia Pacific Director. 

According to Chinese official reports, almost 200 people were killed
during the disturbances in July.

The demonstrators were protesting the authorities' failure to take action
following the deaths of at least two, but possibly several dozen, Uighur
migrant workers during a riot at a toy factory in the city of Shaoguan, in
the southern province of Guangdong. 

Nine people were executed last month in connection with the unrest.

Amnesty International has raised concerns about the lack of openness and
transparency of the trials and believes defendants have been denied the
right to choose their legal representation.

Judicial authorities in Beijing put pressure on human rights lawyers not
to take up the cases of the accused. 

Since the July unrest in the XUAR the authorities have detained thousands
of people, brought dozens to trial, and threatened those involved in the
unrest with harsh sentences.

"Last month’s executions followed fast on the heels of the sentences from
the Intermediate Court, calling into question the care with which the
Supreme Court reviewed these cases," said Rife.  "Amnesty International
opposes the death penalty in all cases, but the lack of transparency and
fair trials in these cases is outrageous."

Chinese authorities have refused to allow any independent inquiry into the

Internet connections, international telephone links, and other forms of
communication in the XUAR that were shut down on the evening of the 5
July, remain blocked, making information regarding the events of July and
after extremely difficult to obtain.

According to Chinese law, all death sentences must be reviewed by the
Chinese Supreme People's Court. 

Public Document

For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in
London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: 

For more information please contact Roseann Rife, Asia-Pacific Deputy
Programme Director in Hong Kong on +852 2385 8319 or +852 9103 7183

Working to protect human rights worldwide

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ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS IN EAST TURKISTAN Uyghur Foundation Stichting Oeigoeren Nederland Stichting Uighur Jurat Barat  Stichting Uyghur Oost-Turkestan Uyghur Logo Nederlanders Holland Europe HUMAN RIGHTS  Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Erkin Alptekin Rebiya Kadeer

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