Mon, Jan 05, 2009 - Page 4 News List

China arrested 1,300 in Xinjiang drive last year

CRACKDOWN CONTINUES The ‘Procuratorial Daily’ said the arrests were part of efforts to maintain social stability last year, when Beijing hosted the Olympics

AFP , BEIJING

China arrested almost 1,300 people for terrorism, religious extremism or other state security charges in Xinjiang last year, state press said yesterday.

The vast desert area bordering Central Asia is home to the majority of China’s ethnic Uighur population.

The Procuratorial Daily said the arrests came as the government made “maintaining social stability” a priority last year, when Beijing hosted the Olympic Games in August.

A wave of unrest, at times resulting in violence, erupted in Xinjiang ahead of the Olympics. State press reports claimed the unrest was largely fomented by Uighur Muslim separatists.

The paper said 1,295 people were arrested on suspicion of endangering state security in the first 11 months of last year and that 1,154 were formally charged and faced trials or administrative punishment.

Judicial authorities were ordered to “strike hard on the three forces of terrorism, separatism and religious extremism that endanger state security,” it said.

Last month, two Islamic “terrorists” were sentenced to death for an attack on police four days before the Olympics that was intended to sabotage the Games, state press reported earlier, citing the Supreme Court.

The men were convicted of murder following the attack in Xinjiang that reportedly left 17 police dead and 15 injured.

The Aug. 4 attack was the worst in a wave of unrest in Xinjiang ahead of and during the Olympics.

Meanwhile, the country will mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China with a military parade showcasing its latest weapons, state press said yesterday.

General Chen Bingde (陳炳德), chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, has been put in charge of the Oct. 1 parade — which was last held on the 50th anniversary a decade ago — the People’s Daily said on its Web site.

“The National Day military parade can showcase the modernization, the build-up and the great success of China’s military and display its great strength in defending and reunifying the motherland and advancing world peace,” it said.

Soldiers, tanks and missiles will parade down Beijing’s Avenue of Heavenly Peace before gathering in front of the huge portrait of Chinese leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東) on Tiananmen Square.

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