One report tells us:
A Chinese court sentenced 12 people to death and dozens more to lesser sentences for attacks on government buildings and vehicles that killed 37 people in the western border region of Xinjiang.
Aside from the 12 sentenced to die, the court in Kashgar prefecture issued death sentences Monday to 15 more people but suspended the punishment for two years, said the Xinjiang government’s Web portal, Tianshan.
Nine others were sentenced to life imprisonment, while 20 more were given jail terms spanning four to 20 years, Tianshan said.
A death sentence suspended for two years is normally commuted to a life sentence if the convict displays good behavior in prison.
None of the people sentenced Monday could be reached for comment, and it wasn’t clear whether they planned to appeal.
The July 28 attacks in Shache, a sparsely populated county situated between a vast, shifting-sands desert and the Karakoram mountains that form the border with Pakistan, also left 94 people injured. They were among a series of deadly clashes this year in Xinjiang.
China has battled a sporadically violent separatist movement by some Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking and mainly Muslim ethnic group in the region.
Tianshan and state television reports didn’t give the ethnicity of those sentenced Monday, but their names indicated they weren’t from the Han Chinese majority.
Over the past year or so, violence linked to Xinjiang separatists has ticked up, with attacks moving beyond the usual targets of police stations and other government buildings to include train stations and other public places.
Security forces have responded with measures that human-rights and Uighur advocacy groups say are harsh.
In the July attack, assailants—whom state media said were terrorists—attacked civilians, state buildings and vehicles in two towns in Shache, before police gunned down 59 people and arrested 215 others.
In response to attacks in the spring, the government declared a security clampdown that has resulted in detentions of large numbers of people, the posting of checkpoints across roadways in Xinjiang and stepped-up patrols by armed police.
In September, a series of blasts in Luntai county killed six people and injured 54 others, prompting a police crackdown that left 40 “rioters” and four law-enforcement officers dead, state media reported.
Chinese government and security policies in Xinjiang have drawn criticisms for years from rights and Uighur advocacy groups for making Uighurs feel marginalized and for exacerbating tensions between them and Han Chinese, who have migrated into the region in large numbers in recent decades.
Last month, a court handed a life sentence to a prominent Uighur scholar, Ilham Tohti, after convicting him on separatism charges. Mr. Tohti, who stood trial last month, has been a fierce critic of Beijing’s ethnic policies but was seen by many rights activists as a moderate voice for China’s Uighur minority.