Police in China’s restive Muslim region offer money, amnesty for terror tip-offs

BEIJING, China — Police in China’s restive far west will pay between $1,500 to $15,000 for tip-offs about terrorist activity and may give lighter sentences or amnesty for suspects who turn themselves in, a public security spokeswoman said Friday.

The campaign, announced on the official Xinjiang government website, promises payments between 10,000 and 100,000 yuan for information about serious violent crime and terrorism. Suspects who surrender may be exempted from punishment or receive lighter sentencing in return for their co-operation.

Xinjiang has been beset by ethnic conflict and a sometimes violent separatist movement by Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gurs), a largely Muslim ethnic group that sees Xinjiang as its homeland.

Police launched a sweeping crackdown on terrorist activity after deadly riots in the regional capital of Urumqi last year. Uighurs attacked Hans — China’s largest ethnic group — overturning buses and cars and torching shops in the regional capital of Urumqi in a riot the government says killed 197 people. In the aftermath, hundreds were arrested and about two dozen sentenced to death. Many other Uighurs remain unaccounted for and are believed to be in custody.

Rights groups say the crackdown has also targeted critics of the Chinese government and its policies in the region.

A spokeswoman for the information office of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau said Friday that the reward campaign, which was launched online Thursday, was aimed at mobilizing ordinary people to help fight terror and crime.

“We have offered similar awards before to people who provided clues in some police campaigns such as gun control,” said the woman who would only give her surname, Li.

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