BEIJING (AP) — Courts in China's restive far western region have jailed dozens of people in a special operation to curb the spread of audio and video materials inciting terrorism, the Xinjiang Supreme Court said Wednesday.
In statements posted to its official microblog, the court said 39 people were sentenced to prison Tuesday after being convicted of crimes including organizing and leading terrorist groups, inciting ethnic hatred, ethnic discrimination and the illegal manufacturing of guns.
The Xinjiang region, home to the Turkish-speaking Muslim Uighur (pronounced WEE'-gur) minority, has seen a surge in violence protesting Beijing's rule. Most recently, assailants targeted civilians in a suicide attack outside a train station in the regional capital of Urumqi last month, killing three people, including two suspected attackers.
Beijing blames the violence on secession-seeking terrorists and has vowed a severe crackdown.
Among those convicted Tuesday was 25-year-old Maimaitiniyazi Aini, who received five years in prison for inciting ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination for comments he made in six chat groups involving 1,310 people, the Supreme Court said.
In another case, a Uighur man was jailed for 15 years after he preached jihad, or holy war, to his son and another young man, according to the court.
"Violent terrorism has become a major threat to ethnic unity and social stability in Xinjiang," the court said in a statement. "We must eliminate from the root the soil where violent terrorist thoughts should grow by severely cracking down on the criminal activities of spreading terrorism audios and video."
Critics and human rights watchers have said Beijing's suppressive ethnic, cultural and religious policies have bred dissatisfaction and anger among the Uighurs. Some say the marginalized Uighurs are more vulnerable to extreme thoughts.