Chinese courts have sentenced 113 people in the majority Uighur Muslim province to jail terms ranging from 10 years to life behind bars on counts including inciting ethnic hatred and belonging to a “terrorist organization,” state media has reported.
The tianshan.net website said Sunday that the sentences were handed out last Wednesday by courts in 11 counties and cities in the Kashgar region. It did not identify the ethnicity of the sentenced, but they appeared to have Uighur names.
The judges found them guilty of crimes ranging from robbery and drug trafficking to "being involved in organizing, leading and participating in a terrorist organization, inciting ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination," according to tianshan.net.
China also sentenced 81 Uighurs earlier in June — nine of them to death — on similar charges, including the "terror"-related charge.
The sentences come after Beijing vowed to crack down on religious and separatist groups, which it blames for a series of violent attacks in Xinjiang.
A suicide bombing last month killed 39 people at a market in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. In March, 29 people were stabbed to death at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.
At least 380 people have been arrested following the violence.
Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government's policies in Xinjiang, including strict controls on practicing Islam, have provoked unrest.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uighur Congress, the largest group of exiled Uighurs, called the crackdown a "competitive race" among various areas to arrest and sentence members of the China’s Muslim minority.
"They have trampled on the rights of the defendants to argue and appeal, accusing Uighurs who are rising against China's suppression and expressing their dissatisfaction of being terrorists," Raxi said in a statement.
"It will only lead to extreme forms of resistance when people cannot protest peacefully."
Xinjiang, resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of central Asia, is crucial to China's growing energy needs. Analysts say that much of the proceeds of China’s energy boom have gone to the Han Chinese, stoking resentment among Uighurs.
Al Jazeera and wire services