Saturday, February 10, 2007

China’s Answer to Islamic Separatists: Execute the Ringleader

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 10, 2007

Radio Free Asia announced that China has executed the Muslim extremist Ismail Semed for Alleged Separatist Activities.

China’s state controlled media has not confirmed the execution.

Mr. Semed, a member of the Uighur minority group in Xinjiang, was shot to death Thursday after being convicted in 2005 of trying to “split the motherland.”

Xinjiang borders the Tibet Autonomous Region to the south, Mongolia to the east, Russia to the north, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and the Pakistan-India controlled parts of Kashmir to the west.Xinjiang is somewhat like the autonomous tribal regions of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where national police and armed forces fear for their lives.

Human rights groups condemned the execution of Semed because they said the prosecution's case against him lacked evidence and his confession may have been coerced.

Chinese authorities say militants among the Uighurs Turkic-speaking Muslims are leading a violent Islamic separatist movement in the region and are seeking to set up an independent state of "East Turkistan."

Critics accuse Beijing of using claims of terrorism as an excuse to crack down on peaceful pro-independence sentiment and expressions of Uighur identity.

Semed’s trial was conducted in 2005. Semed's widow, identified by Radio Free Asia as Buhejer, said that her husband told her during his trial that his confession was forced.

Rebiya Kadeer, a Chinese Muslim from Xinjiang now living in exile in the U.S., said in a separate statement that the case against Semed lacked credible evidence.

"His trial, like most Uighur political prisoners' trials, was not fair," said Kadeer, who is president of the Uyghur American Association.

Amnesty International accused the government of China of torturing Semed while he was in custody.