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China court to try 200 over Xinjiang riots

[JURIST] More than 200 people detained during last month's violent demonstrations in China's Xinjiang province will go on trial this week, Chinese state media reported Monday. The trials will take place [AFP report] in the Intermediate People's Court in Urumqi, the capital of the primarily Muslim region. The defendants will face charges ranging from vandalism to murder. Reports did not indicate how many defendants were Uighur and how many were Han Chinese, but did say that 170 Uighur and 20 Han lawyers were assigned to the case. Earlier this month, Chinese authorities announced [JURIST report] charges of murder, intentional injury, arson, and robbery against 83 people accused of participating in violent demonstrations. Xinjiang Prosecutor Utiku'er Abudrehman has said that 718 people, both Han Chinese and ethnic minority Uighur, are detained [Xinhua report] in connection with the riots as a result of police investigations of damaged stores, homes, and vehicles, as well as photographs and videos of the riots.

In early July, violence broke out [NYT report] between Han Chinese and Uighur residents in Xinjiang's regional capital. After two days of rioting, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for restraint [press release; JURIST report] from all sides and a respect for due process in arrests and prosecutions. The Chinese government claims [Xinhua report] that the majority of the 197 killed and 1,600 injured in the violence were Han residents killed by protesters, although the WUC and the UAA maintain that many protesters were killed by authorities but not included in the official death toll. Chinese officials have acknowledged [JURIST report] that 12 protesters were killed by police. The Uighur population, which is Muslim, is opposed [BBC backgrounder] to China's restrictive bans on religious practice, and say that the recent influx of Han Chinese has disenfranchised non-Chinese-speaking Uighurs.

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