A court in China's far western Xinjiang region sentenced six men to death today over riots between Muslim Uighurs and members of the Han Chinese majority that killed nearly 200 people in July. The sentences—the first for any of the scores of suspects arrested in the rioting—appeared aimed at placating Han Chinese who have rallied in the regional capital of Urumqi calling for swift justice. An overseas Uighur activist, however, said they were only likely to exacerbate the ethnic tensions.
Xinjiang has been under heavy security since the strife, and state TV showed paramilitary troops in riot gear surrounding the courthouse today. State media said that seven people were convicted of murder as well as arson and robbery; one was given only life imprisonment, as his reward for helping capture one of the other defendants. Their names appeared to identify the men as Uighurs.