Muslim Wire

Uighur leader’s Japan visit draws fire from China

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 20, 2009

TOKYO (AFP) – Exiled Uighur minority leader Rebiya Kadeer called on Japan to pressure China on human rights as she arrived in Tokyo Tuesday for a visit that drew immediate fire from Beijing.

US-based Kadeer, whom China labels a terrorist, arrived in Japan for a 10-day visit, her second trip to Japan this year, to deliver a series of speeches on the human rights situation in China.

China immediately expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” over the visit by Kadeer, whom it blames for fomenting deadly unrest in its remote Xinjiang region in July that left 197 people dead.

Kadeer condemned China’s recent death sentences of Uighurs over the violence and claimed that, aside from the publicised trials, “already nine people have been executed in secret trials.”

Speaking to reporters upon her arrival at Narita airport near Tokyo, dressed in a black coat and cap, she also said that she wants Japan and the Chinese government to hold talks.

“I wish that the Japanese government would pressure the Chinese government to change its policies on ethnic minority groups,” she said.

“I wish the killing would stop,” added Kadeer, a grandmother and mother-of-11.

Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Central Asian people, have accused China of decades of religious, cultural and political oppression.

Riots erupted on July 5 in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi, pitting mainly Muslim minority Uighurs against members of China’s dominant Han group.

The violence left 197 dead and more than 1,600 injured, mostly Han, according to an official toll.

Kadeer, who was jailed in China from 1999 to 2005 and now lives in exile in a suburb of Washington, called on China to allow the Uighur people self-determination.

“They must release all Uighur people who were arrested in the 7-5 (July 5) mayhem and are still in captivity,” she said.

She also thanked Japan for hosting her visit, praising it as “a country that fully exercises democracy.”

A previous Kadeer visit to Japan in July angered Beijing, which calls her World Uighur Congress a separatist terrorist movement.

China’s reaction to her latest visit was immediate.

“Some forces in Japan plan to facilitate Rebiya Kadeer’s visit to Japan and, despite China’s grave concerns, Japan allowed her to enter,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters.

“China expresses its strong dissatisfaction. We want to reiterate that China is firmly against national separatism and is firm in upholding our national unity.”

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