China Just Sentenced People to Death in a Stadium Filled with 7,000 Spectators

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 28 2014 5:29 PM

China Just Sentenced People to Death in a Stadium Filled with 7,000 Spectators

rtr3r5sa
Trucks carrying suspects during a mass sentencing rally at a stadium in China on May 27, 2014.

REUTERS/Stringer

This seems like a pretty creepy day-out with the family, but in China 7,000 local residents turned up to watch a mass sentencing, Chinese state media reported on Wednesday. The sentencing of 55 people—some to death—for charges ranging from terrorism to murder, took place in an open-air stadium in the northwest of China. “Photos showed packed stadium bleachers and trucks parked on the sports field loaded with prisoners in orange vests being guarded by armed police,” Reuters reports.

The group of defendants was reportedly from the Muslim Uighur community in China’s Xinjiang province. Here’s more from the Associated Press:

The public event was a show of force in Xinjiang after 43 people were killed last week in an attack at a vegetable market in the regional capital, Urumqi. Such sentencing rallies — designed to humiliate the accused and feed a public thirst for retribution — were formerly common across China, but have in recent years been mostly restricted to Xinjiang and the neighbouring restive region of Tibet. That appears to speak to a separate brand of justice carried out against government critics and others accused of crimes who hail from minority ethnic groups, underscored by the announcement last week of a special one-year security crackdown in Xinjiang focusing on suspected terrorists, religious extremist groups, illegal weapons makers and terrorist training camps.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Nov. 21 2014 1:38 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? See if you can keep pace with the copy desk, Slate’s most comprehensive reading team.