China sentences 55 prisoners - in front of a packed stadium holding 7,000 spectators

The public rally was part of the country's nationwide anti-terrorism operation following a series of deadly attacks

China has carried out a mass sentencing of 55 people – handing out at least three death penalties – in front of 7,000 people at a packed sports stadium, state media reported.

Local officials in the country’s western Xinjiang region held the public rally on Tuesday, passing judgements for crimes such as “violent terrorism”.

The public sentencing, carried out at a sports stadium in Yining city in the northern region of Yili, was reminiscent of China’s revolutionary era rallies and is a show of strength in the face of a spate of bloody attacks. 

Images show thousands of people in the stands overlooking trucks parked on the sports field that are loaded with prisoners in orange vests and guarded by armed police.

The mass trial follows a similar event last week in the region where 39 people were jailed on terrorism charges.

China is waging a year-long anti-terrorism operation nationwide following a series of attacks – but it has focused on Xinjiang, home to a large Muslim Uighur minority, after a series of bloody attacks that Beijing blames on Islamists and separatists from the region.

The latest bunch of prisoners were sentenced for crimes including intentional murder, separatism, and leading or participating in terrorism groups, People.cn, the website associated with the ruling Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, said on Tuesday night.

Li Minghui, the regions deputy Party secretary, said the public sentencing made clear the determination of the ruling Communist Party to clamp down on “violent terrorism, separatism and religious extremism”.

"[We] must resolutely strike criminals ... and boost the confidence and will to fight for all ethnicities among the masses," Li said.

A paramilitary policeman stands guard near trucks carrying criminals and suspects during the mass sentencing rally A paramilitary policeman stands guard near trucks carrying criminals and suspects during the mass sentencing rally The rally was originally reported by the official Xinhua news agency, but links to the story appeared to have been taken down.

Beijing says separatist groups in Xinjiang are seeking to form their own state called East Turkestan, though experts dispute the influence and reach of the most prominent group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

Exiles and rights groups say the real cause of the unrest is China's repressive policies that put curbs on Islam and the culture of Uighurs, Muslims who speak a Turkic language. Uighurs have long complained of official discrimination in favour of the Han, China's majority ethnic group.

Individuals named in the report on the latest sentencing rally all appeared to have Uighur names.

China's leadership has been eager to reassure the public of stability in view of the recent deadly attacks.

Following a knife attack at a train station in the southwest China city of Kunming in March, which the government blamed on militants from Xinjiang, tourist traffic to the region had dropped 40 percent over the same period the previous year, China Radio International quoted Xinjiang's tourism administration chief Yinamu Naisierding, as saying.

He said the government is preparing to offer 500 yuan (£48) travel rewards for tourists, but gave no details.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Read more: 'Violent terror attack' at Chinese train station
Thousands of prisoners freed as labour camps close
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone