China executes two Uighurs in East Turkistan in disputed attack

China executed two Uighurs in East Turkistan (China calls it Xinjiang) on Thursday after a court convicted them over a deadly attack on police in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The two members of Muslim Uighur minority were put to death in the city of Kashgar, where the attack that left 17 dead and another 15 injured took place, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The men — Abdurahman Azat, 33, and Kurbanjan Hemit, 28 — were sentenced to death in December after being “found guilty”.

The Kashgar court said the two men had “carried out the terrorist attack” on Aug. 4 to sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games, Xinhua reported. Their execution was “publicised” at a meeting of some 4,000 officials and residents in a local stadium, it said.

But human rights groups and Uighur independence activists say Beijing grossly exaggerates the threat to justify harsh controls.

On Wednesday, China also announced that two people had been sentenced to death over riots in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa last year.

Disputed accounts

The men allegedly crashed a lorry into paramilitary police before detonating some explosives in the city of Kashgar in August.

The Xinhua report is different from what tourists told New York Times in December report.

The Xinhua report backed up the official version of the attack. The report said that the two men, armed with guns, explosives, knives and axes, drove a heavy truck that they had stolen into the officers when they came out for their exercises, killing 15 and wounding 13.

A man of three foreign tourists provided photos of the assault to two Western news organizations.

Tourists were in the Barony Hotel, across the street from the site of the assault, gave details of the attack to The New York Times that appeared at odds with aspects of the official version.

The tourists confirmed that the truck plowed into the officers, leaving many dead and injured. But they said they did not hear multiple explosions afterward.

Furthermore, they said they saw paramilitary officers using machetes to attack what appeared to be other men with the same green security uniforms. The men with the machetes mingled freely with other officers afterward, the tourists said.

The Xinhua report did not give any details on what kind of evidence was reviewed by the court in Kashgar during the trial of the two men.

Chinese officials previously claimed the attackers linked them to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement,which struggled against Chinese occupation in Muslim majority region.

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

History of Uyghurs

Historical records show that the Uyghurs have a history of more than 4000 years. Throughout the history the Uyghurs developed a unique culture and civilization and made remarkable contribution to the civilization of the world.

East Turkistan has 8 million Uighurs.

The Uyghurs Islam in 934, during the reign of Satuk Bughra Khan, the Kharahanid ruler. Since that time on the Islam continuously served Uyghurs as the only religion until today.

After embracing Islam the Uyghurs continued to preserve their cultural dominance in Central Asia.

East Turkistan was occupied by the communist China in 1949 and its name was changed in 1955. The communist China has been excersizing a colonial rule over the East Turkistan since then.