Arrests in China’s mainly-Muslim Xinjiang nearly doubled in 2014: report

Prosecutors in the far-western area approved the arrest of 27,164 criminal suspects in 2014

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Arrests nearly doubled last year in China’s violence-torn, mainly Muslim Xinjiang region, state-run media reported Friday, adding that a crackdown has been extended to the end of this year.

Prosecutors in the far-western area, home to China’s 10-million-strong Turkic-speaking and mostly Muslim Uighurs, approved the arrest of 27,164 criminal suspects in 2014, up more than 95 percent on the previous year, the China Daily newspaper said.

“We’ve shortened the time between approving arrests and prosecution in major terrorist-related cases so the suspects can be tried as soon as possible to show the region’s determination to fight terrorism,” Xinjiang’s chief prosecutor Nixiang Yibulayin was quoted as telling the region’s legislature on Thursday.

Violence linked to Xinjiang has intensified over the past year, with at least 200 people killed in a series of clashes and increasingly sophisticated attacks in the resource-rich region and beyond it.

Beijing, which blames Xinjiang-related violence on “religious extremists,” “separatists” and “terrorists,” has responded by launching a severe crackdown in recent months, with around 50 executions and death sentences publicly announced since June.

The China Daily said the campaign – initiated in May after an attack in the regional capital Urumqi left 39 people dead and 94 injured and originally intended to last a year – had been extended for “at least” six more months.

Rights groups argue that harsh police treatment of the Uighur minority, as well as government campaigns against religious practices such as the wearing of veils, have led to violence.

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