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China Sentences 2 Former Xinjiang Officials Over Separatism Charges

BEIJING (AP) – China has sentenced a former education official and a former justice official in the northwestern Xinjiang region to death with a two-year reprieve on charges of separatism and corruption.

Sattar Sawut and Shirzat Bawudun are the latest of many Xinjiang bureaucrats, almost all members of the Turkish Uyghur Muslim minority group, to be sentenced on national security charges in what China calls a campaign against the “two-faced officials” who seek to undermine the Chinese. rule from inside the system.

These sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment after two years with good behavior. The two men pleaded guilty and neither of them appealed, said Wang Langtao, vice president of the Xinjiang Regional Higher People’s Court.

National security matters are heard behind closed doors and it is not known exactly when the men were tried or when their sentences were handed down. Sattar Sawut was arrested in 2018. It was clear when Shirzat Bawudun had been detained.

The court said Tuesday that Sattar Sawut, the former head of the regional education department, “had incorporated ethnic separatism, violence, terrorism and religious extremism into minority language textbooks.”

“Sattar Sawut took advantage of the compilation and publication of ethnic language textbooks for primary and secondary schools to divide the country, starting in 2002. He asked others to choose several people with separatist thoughts to join the textbook compilation team, the court found. The Xinhua News Agency said, citing Wang’s comments at a press conference.

Wang said that Shirzat Bawudun, the former head of the Xinjiang regional justice department, was convicted of “splitting the country” for colluding with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and “offering to help separatists and religious extremists, and collaborated with foreign separatist forces. “The ETIM is listed as a terrorist group by the United Nations, although many experts question whether it exists in operational form.

Shirzat Bawudun met with representatives of ETIM and encouraged others to join the group, Wang said. He also “carried out illegal religious activities at his daughter’s wedding,” and accepted bribes totaling 11.12 million yuan ($ 1.7 million), Wang said.

Following terrorist attacks that claimed thousands of lives, China launched a massive security campaign in Xinjiang, detaining more than one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and members of other Muslim minority groups in prison-type re-education centers where they are told to denounce Islam and traditional culture, learn Mandarin. Chinese and swears loyalty to the ruling Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping.

This crackdown has been accompanied by arrests of prominent Uyghur academics and other public figures, mostly on charges of separatism.

China denies any abuse, saying the centers were aimed at teaching professional skills and de-radicalizing those influenced by anti-Chinese jihadist teachings. He says his policies have prevented any further terrorist attacks from taking place for more than four years.

Beijing has also vehemently attacked allegations of forced labor in cotton factories and fields and encouraged an unofficial public boycott of foreign companies speaking out on the issue. He calls the US sanctions against officials associated with the persecution in Xinjiang as old political persecutions that will have no effect on government policy.

The court said the textbooks approved by Sattar Sawut had been in use for 13 years, with “serious consequences”. He said the 2003 and 2009 editions of the textbooks contained 84 passages preaching ethnic separatism, violence, terrorism and religious extremism and that several people were inspired by the books to participate in a bloody anti-government riot in the city. regional capital Urumqi in 2009.

Others, the court said, were inspired to become “key members of a separatist group led by former university professor Ilham Tohti,” a Uyghur economist serving a life sentence for separatism since. 2014.

Sattar Sawut also abused his official positions to accept bribes worth 15.05 million yuan ($ 2.3 million), the court said.

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