China sentenced 20 people in Xinjiang on charges of terrorist activities

Story highlights

  • Courts in northwest China's Xinjiang province sentenced 20 people for separatist activities
  • Sentences ranged from five years in jail to life in prison in five separate cases
  • The northwestern province of China has been the scene of periodic unrest
  • Riots last year left 12 dead in Kashgar last year, according to Xinhua

Two courts in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region sentenced 20 people for alleged terrorist and separatist activities on Tuesday, a spokesperson at the Kashagar Prefecture Intermediate People's Court told CNN.

They received sentences ranging from five years in jail to life in prison in five separate cases in Kashgar and Bayingol prefectures.

The case was reported in Chinese media, including semi-official website Yaxin in Xinjiang. Chinese media did not reveal the ethnicity or gender of the accused, however they are believed to be Uighurs -- a Muslim minority of northwest China -- because of the ethnicity of their names.

The northwestern province of China has been the scene of periodic unrest. Xinjiang was rocked by the worst violence in decades in July 2009 when rioting between Uighurs and Han Chinese left nearly 200 people dead and 1,700 injured in the regional capital Urumqi.

Riots last year left 12 dead in Kashgar last year, according to Xinhua.

The 20 suspects in court on Tuesday were accused of spreading ideas of religious extremism and terrorism as well as participating in terrorist organizations, provoking incidents and incite separatism, according to state media. They used the Internet, mobile phones and digital devices for their crimes.

The suspects were said to be linked to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which are considered terrorist organizations by the Chinese government, according to state media.