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Chinese Prosecutors say 83 to Face Charges Over Xinjiang Riots, 718 Detained


Chinese authorities say 83 people will face charges over their involvement in riots early last month in Xinjiang. The list of suspects includes members of China's Muslim minority group, the Uighurs, as well as Han Chinese suspects.

Prosecutors in Xinjiang's capital of Urumqi say the Han and Uighur suspects will face a wide range of charges, from intentional homicide and injury to other robbery, vandalism and inciting ethnic tensions.

Unrest in Xinjiang began July 5 when a protest by ethnic Uighurs in Urumqi turned violent. Uighurs and Han Chinese clashed during the riots.

Officials did not say how many of the suspects were ethnically Han or how many were Uighurs. The number of the dead, injured and detained has been a heated point of debate between the Chinese government and overseas Uighur groups since the riots occurred.

Dilxat Raxit, the spokesman for the World Uighur Congress, says the fact that Han Chinese are among those charged gives him little assurance that the investigations of the riots will be fair.

Dilxat says he is extremely worried about those who have been detained and will be put on trial because he believes they will not receive the legal support they need. He says that in China's legal system there is no real legal process for Uighurs who have been sentenced, only political considerations.

Prosecutors tell Chinese state media they expect to file more indictments.

In addition to announcing the number of suspects, Chinese authorities now say that 718 people have been detained.

Previously, officials put the number of detained at more than 1,700. It was not immediately clear why there was a discrepancy or whether some had been released.

Dilxat says an independent United Nations investigation into the incident is needed because the sole source of information is the Chinese government.

Dilxat says that his group cannot believe the figures that have been released. He says numbers, such as the detainment of 718 people, are just an attempt by the government to cover up the larger number of Uighurs detained following the incident.

The exiled leader of the World Uighur Congress, Rebiya Kadeer, says as many as 10,000 have gone missing since the unrest. China calls the claim groundless.

China accuses Kadeer and the World Uighur Congress of orchestrating the violence in Xinjiang from overseas. It has enlisted her family to blame her for the unrest, publicizing their comments in state media.

Speaking Wednesday in Australia, where she is attending a film festival, Kadeer accused China of carrying out "psychological torture" on her children by forcing them to denounce her.

Kadeer says the Chinese government's attempts to turn her children against her are inhuman.

The Uighurs, a mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking people, make up nearly half of Xinjiang's 20 million population. They have complained for years of being marginalized due to the influx of Han Chinese, China's dominant ethnic group.

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