At least 55 persons suspected of terrorism were sentenced in a mass trial held inside a sports stadium packed with people in Xinjiang on Tuesday, state media reported, in an apparent attempt to show the government’s determination to strike against terrorists.
The story was splashed in the state media with photographs showing prisoners standing on open trucks with their heads forced down by armed soldiers behind them.
This mass trial comes at a time when the provincial authorities have plans to offer a cash subsidy of 500 Yuan (around $80) to every tourist visiting the region, in a bid to revitalise tourism hit by recent violence.
The public mass trial was attended by at least 7000 people, said a report in the state-controlled Global Times newspaper.
“On Tuesday, Ili prefecture (in Xinjiang) held a public hearing at a sports venue, which was attended by more than 7,000 residents,” the report said.
It added: “The local court handed out sentences to 55 criminals, who were convicted of intentional homicide, splitting the country, or organising and taking part in terrorist activities.”
According to state media, the mass public trial was part of a “high-profile” campaign launched by the government to tackle terrorism.
“The public hearing shows the firm determination of the prefecture to strike against terrorism,” Li Minghui, the deputy secretary of the prefecture's Party committee, said at the hearing.
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) home to some eight million Muslim Uyghurs have been rocked by violence in recent months. In the last incident earlier this month, at least 39 people were killed and more than 90 injured in suicide attack carried out by five persons in the capital city of Urumqi.
Uyghurs have also been blamed for attacks in Kunming this year and in Beijing last year.
Last week, the government launched a one-year campaign to weed out what it calls “terrorism” from Xinjiang, flushing the remote, far-western province with troops.
“Twenty-three terror and religious extremist groups were busted and more than 200 suspects were caught in May in Hotan, Kashi and Aksu, the regional public security department said on Sunday,” the state media reported.