Court cases signal shift from ‘re-education’ to prison for UyghursMarch 08, 2022
Two reports released by officials in Xinjiang — one by the region’s highest court, the other by a group of prosecutors — show China’s strategy for constraining the Uyghur population is shifting from so-called “re-education camps” to prison.
The reports, which were published on March 3 on Tengritagh (Tianshan), the official website of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) government, are largely a dry recitation of judicial statistics for the year. But scholars and analysts say the numbers represent a shift in strategy to use more official but still corrupt means to prosecute Uyghurs and other members of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
Public prosecutors, who collectively are known as the Procuratorate, detained nearly convicted more than 44,600 people in 28,490 cases involving about 12,900 different crimes, according to a work report read by Li Yongjun, who is the head of the XUAR People’s Procuratorate, at the fifth session of the 13th People’s Congress of the XUAR on Jan. 24.
Li noted that “the construction of a safe Xinjiang was effectively promoted.”
In a readout of the 2021 work report, Chief Justice Bahargul Semet said that the region’s courts handled 668,900 cases. Of those, 606,200 were closed to public review. The top-level Supreme Court, meanwhile, took up 5,820 cases — 5,271 of which were closed.
German researcher Adrian Zenz, who has documented China’s abuses against the Uyghurs, said the number of cases and investigations in Xinjiang courts has nearly doubled since 2018.
That, and the fact that Uyghur-language translations are also increasing during trials, shows that, “Beijing’s oppression in the region is shifting from mainly re-education to sentencing large numbers of Uyghurs to prison terms,” Zenz said.
“Uyghurs are not released from the camps, but instead shifted into prisons,” he said.