Monday, February 10, 2014

Xinjiang Obscures State Security Stats, Trials Likely Up 10%

Police patrol around the clock to prevent crimes in Kashgar, XUAR, June 30, 2013. Photo credit:

Dui Hua estimates that the number of endangering state security (ESS) trials in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) rose 10 percent to nearly 300 trials in 2013. The estimate is based on information reported in the annual work report of the XUAR High People’s Court. In marked contrast with the transparency with which it treated ESS trial numbers in reports issued since 2008, this year’s report does not provide the exact number of ESS trials concluded.

The high court states that 21,061 criminal trials of first and second instance were concluded in 2013, and that ESS cases accounted for 1.67 percent of concluded criminal trials of first instance.

First-instance trials accounted for about 84 percent of all criminal trials concluded in XUAR in each year between 2010 and 2012. Assuming a constant ratio in 2013, XUAR concluded 17,712 first-instance criminal cases, of which 296 (1.67 percent) were ESS trials.

The Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) joined XUAR as the only provinces or autonomous regions to quantify ESS trials in their annual court reports. The TAR High People’s Court reported that 20 ESS cases were tried in the region in 2013. Dui Hua believes that, as in previous years, XUAR continued to account for the majority of ESS trials nationwide.

Criminal and ESS Trials in XUAR, 2010-2013
Year Concluded Criminal Cases Concluded ESS Cases
  First instance First & second instance % First instance First
First & second instance % First instance
2010 16752 19785 84.67 314 376 83.51
2011 17097 20772 82.31 366 414 88.41
2012 18708 21952 85.22 270 * 314 85.96 §
2013 17712 † 21061 84.10 § 296 ‡ - -
Source: Dui Hua, Xinjiang High Court Annual Work Reports, Xinjiang Yearbook
* Dui Hua calculation: first and second instance ESS trials times estimated percentage of first instance ESS trials.
§ Dui Hua calculation: average of percentages in previous years.
† Dui Hua calculation: first and second instance criminal trials times estimated percentage of first instance criminal trials.
‡ Dui Hua calculation: 1.67% (officially reported ratio) of estimated first instance criminal trials.

Public information about individual defendants remained extremely limited. Dui Hua’s Political Prisoner Database has the names of three Uyghurs tried for ESS crimes in XUAR in 2013. Nurmamat Ibrahim (努尔麦麦提.伊布拉音) was one of the 95 defendants tried in 21 ESS cases by the Ili Intermediate People’s Court. Enwer Obul (艾尼瓦尔.乌布力) was among 10 defendants tried for inciting splittism by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps 3rd Agricultural Division Intermediate People’s Court in March 2013. Information is not available on the evidence against them or the outcomes of their trials.

Kerem Mehmet (克热木.买买提) was sentenced for inciting splittism to 10 years’ imprisonment by the Bayinguoleng Monggol [Bayingolin] Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court on March 26, 2013. Allegations against him included disseminating information about ethnic separatism, terrorism, and religious extremism through an online discussion group. He was also found guilty of possessing illegal books and mobile storage devices containing reactionary propaganda.

The geographic spread of ESS trials is not even throughout the region. Kashgar alone tries more than 60 percent of Xinjiang’s ESS cases. The intermediate court in Kezilesu Kirghiz [Kizilsu] Autonomous Prefecture tried 18 ESS cases involving 29 individuals in 2013, while in the first 10 months of 2013, Hami Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court concluded just one case of inciting splittism.

Although often conflated, ESS crimes do not include terrorism; instead, they often involve speech and association. None of the five defendants who participated in the Bachu incident on April 23, 2013, nor none of the four defendants who took part in the Shanshan Riots on June 26, 2013, were convicted of ESS crimes.

The vast majority of ESS defendants appear to be Uyghurs passing through Kashgar, but their identities, acts, and fates remain unknown.