The death sentence imposed on a Han Chinese in connection with the fatal factory fight in Guangdong seen as the trigger of July’s ethnic riots in Urumqi was always only the prelude. Six men have now been sentenced to death for their involvement in the riots themselves, China’s most deadly violent protest in decades.
All six appear to be Uighurs. They were found guilty of murder, arson and robbery. A seventh man, who cooperated with authorities, received a life sentence for the same offenses from the Intermediate People’s Court in Urumqi. Xinhua hints there will be more convictions to come, describing the seven as “the first to be sentenced over the riot”, after which hundreds were arrested.
Capital punishments were always inevitable but they will do little to bridge the growing chasm between Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang and are only likely to prompt more violent protests. We hear that security has been stepped up in Urumqi since Sunday with more than ten thousand paramilitary police on the streets.
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