China frees 1,200 in Tibet

GENEVA: China said Monday that it has released more than 1,200 detainees held over the unrest in Tibet last year while more than 700 people are still being held over last month's riots in Xinjiang.

"After the 1,231 suspects were punished, made to submit statements of repentance and educated by judicial authorities in Tibet, they were freed," Beijing said in a written reply to a UN hearing in Geneva into China's record on eliminating racial discrimination.

Some 77 others have been charged for serious offences such as burglary, arson and obstruction of justice, while seven others were charged with espionage.

Duan Jielong, who headed a 30-strong Chinese delegation at the UN hearing, confirmed Chinese media reports that police are still holding 718 suspects in connection to last month's violence in the northwest region of Xinjiang.

Duan told the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that there is "evidence of criminal acts" for all of these suspects, while others who "committed minor offences have been dealt with leniently and released."

Another 83 people are facing charges of serious crimes, such as murder, arson and robbery.

In early July, ethnic violence in Xinjiang left 197 people dead, most of them Han Chinese killed by angry mobs from China's Uighur minority.

Of those killed, 156 were "innocent people", said Duan. They included 134 who are of Han ethnic origin, 11 from the Hui minority, 10 Uighurs and one Manchurian.

Others were "rioters killed while committing criminal violence" or those whose identities have not yet been identified, added Duan.

China had said during the first day of hearing on Friday that last year's unrest in Tibet and July's violence in Xinjiang were instigated by separatists abroad.

"Facts have fully shown that the two incidents were premeditated and organised crimes of violence, directed and instigated by separatists abroad and carried out by separatists inside China," Duan had said then.