Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Public executions in China's Olympic crackdown

China's security crackdown ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games included the public execution of three men last month in the western Xinjiang province.

The Washington Post reported that the local government took "several thousand" students and office workers by bus to a public square shortly after dawn on 9 July.

Three prisoners were brought out and shot dead by an execution squad, witnessed by the crowd lined up in front of a vocational school.

The three were part of a group of 17 convicted of being members of the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which has fought for independence for the region's Muslim Uighur people.

Officials reportedly announced during the execution that they were captured in January 2007 in a raid on a terrorist training camp, in which 18 other members of the group were killed.

The others captured in the raid received sentences from 10 years to life.

According to The Washington Post, the executions "went down poorly".

"It was not a good thing, what the Chinese did," said a Uighur witness on condition of anonymity.

The executions were a clear message of control in the region ahead of the Olympics, as well as a public demonstration of the harsh consequences for those with alleged links to terrorist groups.

Chinese authorities have claimed several times in recent months to have foiled terrorist plots aimed at disrupting the Olympics.

But apart from the photographs released showing this week's alleged attack in Xinjiang, the government has provided little evidence to back up the allegations of a series of planned attacks.

Related stories:
China’s deadly world record under attack -- 27 February, 2008

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