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China officials deny reports that 200 will be tried over Xinjiang riots

[JURIST] Chinese officials on Tuesday denied a Monday state media report that more than 200 people detained during last month's violent demonstrations in China's Xinjiang province will go on trial [JURIST report] this week. State-run China Daily [media website] reported Monday that the trials would take place in the Intermediate People's Court in Urumqi, the capital of the primarily Muslim region, and that the defendants would face charges ranging from vandalism to murder. A Xinjiang government spokesperson denied that report Tuesday, saying that the number of people facing charges was closer to 80, confirming earlier reports [JURIST report], and that no trial would begin this week. Xinjiang Prosecutor Utiku'er Abudrehman has said that 718 people, both Han Chinese and ethnic minority Uighur, have been 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 [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 Uighur advocacy groups 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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