, BEIJING, July 11- Chinese courts in the far western region of Xinjiang have sentenced 32 people to prison terms ranging from four years to life for terrorism-related charges, state media reported Friday.
The sentences were handed down Thursday by courts in seven cities and prefectures in Xinjiang, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The verdicts covered spreading “terror related audio and video and organising terrorist groups”, Xinhua said, citing 11 cases of “terror audio and video”.
Three people received life sentences while the remaining 29 were handed between four to 15 years in jail, the report said, citing a statement issued by Xinjiang authorities.
The sentences come after China launched a crackdown following several high-profile attacks blamed on militants from the far western region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.
Since late last year the attacks have spread outside Xinjiang and targeted ordinary citizens rather than government or security personnel as in the past.
The violence included a fiery vehicle crash at Tiananmen Square, Beijing’s symbolic heart, in October, a knife assault at a railway station in southern Yunnan province in March that killed 29 people and an explosive and vehicle attack on a market in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi in May that killed 39.
Rights groups accuse Beijing of cultural and religious repression that fuels unrest in Xinjiang. But the government argues it has boosted economic development in the area and that it upholds minority rights in a country with 56 recognised ethnic groups.
Last month authorities executed 13 people, and sent more than 100 to jail in a public mass sentencing on mostly terrorism-related offences in Xinjiang.
The latest convictions were for using “phones and the Internet to store, download and spread religious extremism and violent terror audio and video files”, Xinhua said, citing the statement.
“They were convicted of using the materials to lead and organise terrorist groups, illegally make explosives, instigate ethnic hatred and discrimination and teach criminal methods,” Xinhua said, again citing the statement.