China’s Xinjiang death sentences ‘justified’

Updated 14 August 2013

China’s Xinjiang death sentences ‘justified’

BEIJING: Death sentences for two men over violence in China’s ethnically divided western region of Xinjiang earlier this year were justified, official media on Tuesday quoted academics as saying.
The Intermediate People’s Court in Xinjiang’s Kashgar prefecture sentenced Musa Hesen and Rehman Hupur to die for crimes including murder and taking part in a “terrorist group,” the Xinhua news agency reported late Monday.
China blamed the April 23 violence that left 21 people dead on “terrorists,” a charge rights groups say is often used to justify the authorities’ use of force against members of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.
Xinjiang, a region more than four times the size of Japan, is 46 percent Uighur and 39 percent Han, China’s dominant ethnic group, official figures show. Many Uighurs complain of religious and cultural repression by Chinese authorities, and the region is regularly hit by unrest.
“Upholding laws during our fight against terrorism helps people at home and abroad get a clearer understanding about terrorist threats in Xinjiang,” Li Wei said according to a local newspaper. It described him as an expert on anti-terrorism at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. Turgunjan Tursun, a research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Science, asserted that the violence was unrelated to ethnic, religious or political issues, according to the paper. “No matter what banner the terrorists carry or slogan they use, violent attacks are against the law,” Tursun told the paper.
“We must punish the crime in accordance with the law, and the sentence was a demonstration of that.” Hesen was accused of leading the group and manufacturing explosives. Another three men accused of belonging to the group were given prison sentences ranging from nine years to life, Xinhua reported.
All of the defendants reportedly confessed to their crimes in court.
A total of 19 suspects were arrested after the April incident in Kashgar’s Bachu county, which saw gunfights break out.


Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

Updated 24 min 15 sec ago

Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

  • Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos
  • Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015
ATHENS: Authorities in Greece moved more asylum-seekers to the mainland on Tuesday as part of a strategy to reduce the refugee population on outlying islands after an increase in arrivals in recent months.

Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos, officials said. Earlier, 120 people arrived from Lesbos.

Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015, when more than a million crossed into Europe, many of them via Greece.

The islands, which are closest to Turkey, have been struggling under the influx, with some 33,700 refugees and migrants in overcrowded camps, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In late September, a woman died in a fire in a tent in a camp on Lesbos, while another fire in a severely overcrowded camp in Samos forced hundreds of people into the streets this month.

“Our focus was mainly on Samos because we want things there to calm down,” migration ministry secretary Manos Logothetis told Reuters.

More than 12,000 people arrived in Greece in September, the highest level in the three-and-a-half years since the EU agreed a deal with Turkey to seal the Aegean corridor to Europe.

Logothetis said up to 300 more people would be leaving Samos this week, and up to 2,000 from all outlying islands next week. Greece aims to move up to 20,000 off the islands by the end of the year, he said.

Athens has announced a stricter migration policy to deal with the crisis, including plans to deport 10,000 people who do not qualify for asylum by the end of next year.