China: two senior officials sentenced to death for separatism in Xinjiang

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BEIJING | Two former senior Uyghur officials have been sentenced to death for “separatism” in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, local authorities said Tuesday evening.

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These sentences were accompanied by a two-year suspension – in practice, this sentence is commuted to life imprisonment.

The two officials respectively headed the justice and education administrations in the region which is the subject of tension between the Muslim majority (mainly Uyghur) and the Han minority (ethnic Chinese).

Several countries, including the United States, evoke a “genocide” against the Uyghurs.

Human rights organizations accuse Beijing of having interned more than a million Uyghurs since 2017 in political re-education centers.

The communist regime denies this figure and assures that they are “vocational training centers” intended to distance the Uyghurs from Islamism and separatism, after a series of attacks which have been attributed to them.

In this context, former Xinjiang Justice Minister Shirzat Bawudun was found guilty of conspiring with the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan (Mito) after meeting with a member of that organization in 2003 while working in the time in the police force, the New China agency said.

Mito is on the UN list of terrorist organizations, but it was removed from that of the United States last November, with Washington saying it doubts the movement continues to exist.

East Turkestan is generally the name given to Xinjiang by the Uyghurs in exile advocating independence.

The justice also accuses Mr. Bawudun of having carried out “illegal religious activities during the marriage of his daughter”.

For his part, former regional education minister Sattar Sawut was found guilty of incorporating into Uyghur language textbooks apologies for separatism, terrorism and religious extremism, according to the government’s website. local.

These manuals have been in use for 13 years.

China does not publish the number of death sentences handed down each year or the number of executions, but Amnesty International says the country is the first in the world in the use of the death penalty, with thousands of convictions and executions every year. year.

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