GENEVA, Aug 28 (AFP) Aug 28, 2009
The United Nations on Friday urged China to guarantee “humane treatment” and offer fair trials to those held over last year’s unrest in Tibet and July’s violence in Xinjiang.
This included granting the detainees “access to a lawyer of their choice, presumption of innocence, and handing down proportionate sentences on those found guilty,” the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said after considering China’s record.
China had said during the UN hearing held on August 7 and 10 that it has released 1,231 people held over the Tibet unrest after they were “punished, made to submit statements of repentance and educated by judicial authorities in Tibet.”
Seventy-seven others have been charged with serious offences such as burglary, arson and obstruction of justice, while seven others were charged with espionage.
Beijing added that 718 people were still held over the violence in Xinjiang, with around 83 people facing charges of serious crimes, such as murder, arson and robbery.
In its conclusions published Friday, the UN committee acknowledged China’s duty to maintain public order in the face of the unrest, but said it was “concerned” at allegations of the disproportionate use of force against ethnic Tibetans and Uighurs.
“The committee further recommends that the state party carefully consider the root causes of such events, including inter-ethnic violence and the reasons why the situation escalated,” it said.
It recommended that China step up efforts to develop areas in the west — where Tibet and Xinjiang lie, in order to eliminate economic and social disparities that persist in these areas.
Beijing has said that at least 197 people were killed in the July 5 unrest in the capital of Xinjiang, Urumqi, which pitted minority Uighurs against members of China’s dominant Han ethnic group.
The violence in Xinjiang came a year after riots in Tibet that broke out after monks led peaceful protests to mark a 1959 uprising. The unrest later spread across the Tibetan plateau.