China issues official list of terrorists

Muslim separatist groups and 11 individuals accused of committing violence

December 16, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

BEIJING - China issued its first formal list of terrorists yesterday, accusing four Muslim separatist groups and 11 individuals of committing violence and calling on other nations to help crack down on them.

China's decision to make public an official list of terrorist organizations emulates the list that the United States introduced after the Sept. 11 attacks.

But critics say China is using the pretense of fighting terror to legitimize its harsh treatment of Muslim Uighur minorities that are peacefully seeking a separate state in China's western province of Xinjiang.

Zhao Yongshen, an antiterrorism official in China's Ministry of Public Security, asserted that the groups included on China's list had coordinated bombings and assassinations as part of a campaign to create an independent "East Turkistan" in Xinjiang.

"They have seriously endangered the safety of the life and property of the Chinese people and other ethnic groups and threatened the security and stability of relevant countries in the region," Zhao said. He asked that other nations freeze bank accounts and arrest and prosecute those on the list.

Last year, a Chinese report asserted that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network had helped finance and train separatists in Xinjiang.

The Uighurs in Xinjiang are Turkic-speaking Muslims who have long sought to maintain their ethnic and cultural identity. Some have advocated an independent state.

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