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UAA/UHRP
26-08-05, 17:24
China's accusations of terrorism against Rebiya Kadeer "outrageous".

For Immediate Release
August 25, 2005, 2:00 p.m. EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project, 1 (202) 349 1496

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) was deeply shocked and distressed this morning to hear that Rebiya Kadeer, the Uyghur business woman and former prisoner of conscience, has been accused by the Chinese authorities of planning terrorist attacks in Xinjiang.

The accusation was made yesterday by Wang Lequan, Communist Party secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, during a press conference to foreign and domestic media in the provincial capital of Xinjiang, widely referred to by Uyghurs as East Turkistan.

Rebiya Kadeer, now exiled in Washington, told UHRP “I wonder if Wang Lequan has mentioned this to President Hu Jintao. I’d like to discuss it with President Hu when he comes to Washington in September.”

President Hu Jintao is visiting Washington, D.C. on September 7 when he is due to meet with President George W. Bush before traveling on to New York for meetings at the United Nations.

Mickey Spiegel, Senior Researcher on China at Human Rights Watch in New York, said “This is an outrageous allegation against Ms. Kadeer, quite obviously intended to discredit her. It seems to me, Chinese officials – not for the first time – have shot themselves in their respective feet. Unless they are prepared to immediately present solid evidence that can be independently evaluated, they owe Ms. Kadeer a public apology. Furthermore, they must immediately stop harassing and intimidating Ms. Kadeer’s family and businesses colleagues still in Xinjiang.”

Before leaving for the United States in March this year, the Chinese authorities warned Ms. Kadeer against speaking out on the Uyghur issue, threatening that her children and former business colleagues remaining in East Turkistan would be “finished” is she did. However, Ms. Kadeer has worked hard to highlight the plight of Uyghurs despite the threats, including testifying to the US Congress and undertaking speaking tours in Europe. In May of this year, two of Ms Kadeer’s former business associates were beaten and detained by police after their office was ransacked. Both people, Ruzi Mamat (m, 25) and Aysham Kerim (f, 34) are believed to still be in detention.

Wang Lequan also accused Ms Kadeer of serious financial impropriety when she was running her business in East Turkistan. He claimed Ms Kadeer left behind huge debts and had avoided paying large sums of tax, an accusation which appears to be at odds with the official praise and status afforded to her for her business achievements before her arrest in 1999.

Roseann Rife, a spokesperson for the UHRP, said “We’re actually quite reluctant to dignify these ludicrous accusations with a response – but at least it shows the world what the Uyghur people are up against in East Turkistan: an extremely vicious, manipulative and vindictive regime.”

The Chinese authorities in East Turkistan regularly charge Uyghurs who peacefully oppose Chinese rule in the region with crimes relating to terrorism. Despite a senior official from the region claiming in April 2004 that there had been no terrorist incidents in East Turkistan “over recent years”, Wang Lequan later that year said 50 people had recently been convicted of terrorist crimes, and an unspecified number were due to be executed.

The Chinese authorities have used the pretext of the “international war on terror” to intensify repression of Uyghurs in East Turkistan, but neglect to abide by international human rights standards when prosecuting “terrorist” suspects. Uyghurs are regularly tried, sentenced and executed in secret by the Chinese authorities, and there are frequent but as yet unsubstantiated reports of Uyghurs being summarily executed by police and paramilitary officers on the merest suspicion of association with the “three evil forces” – China’s description of “terrorism, splittism and religious extremism”.

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The Uyghur American Association (UAA) works to promote the preservation and flourishing of a rich, humanistic and diverse Uyghur culture, and to support the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, democratic means to determine their own political future.

The UAA has undertaken the Uyghur Human Rights Project for the purpose of promoting improved human rights conditions for Uyghurs and other indigenous groups in East Turkistan, on the premise that the assurance of basic human rights will facilitate the realization of the community’s democratic aspirations.