[JURIST] Chinese officials in the western region of Xinjiang on Tuesday held a public rally at a sports stadium for the mass sentencing of criminals, in which 55 individuals were sentenced [press release, in Chinese] before a crowd of 7,000 people. While three received death sentences for crimes including “violent terrorism,” other prisoners’ crimes ranged from separatism to participation in terrorism groups. Rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] have accused [press release] China’s policies of being discriminatory against Uighurs, Muslims who speak a Turkic language. All individuals named at Tuesday’s sentencing rally have Uighur names. This stand against terrorism and extremism appears to be a response to the recent attacks [Reuters report] in Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi.
China leadership seeks to ease public concerns and maintain stability in light of recent violence. Earlier this week a “terror group” was arrested [BBC report] in Xinjiang with more than 1 ton of material for explosive devices. Last week, 31 people were killed, and over 90 injured, when two cars drove through a busy street market in Xinjiang, setting off explosives [Guardian report]. In April both a bombing and a knife attack [CNN report] occurred in the South Railway Station of Urumqi.