Uighur activist's children said held in China


Three children of the leading activist for the Muslim Uighur minority in western China have been detained by police during a U.S. Congressional tour of their region, an exile group said on Tuesday.

Two sons and a daughter of Uighur American Association President Rebiya Kadeer were picked up by police on Monday, the eve of a Congressional delegation visit to Xinjiang, the Uighur Human Rights Project said in a statement.

Kadeer, a prominent Uighur businesswoman, was freed in March 2005 and exiled to the United States after serving seven years in jail on charges of providing state secrets to foreigners.

The statement said Kadeer's sons, Ablikim and Alim Abdiriyim, and a daughter named Rushangul, were being held and not allowed contact with family members or lawyers.

"I demand the immediate release of my three children by the Chinese government," the project quoted Kadeer as saying.

"The Chinese government has to stop harassing my family and relatives in East Turkestan," she said, using the name of a republic that briefly existed in the 1940s before the Chinese army marched into the vast territory.

The three, part of a family of 11 children living in Xinjiang or abroad, are adults, the statement said.

The Uighur Human Rights Project, which did not identify the U.S. lawmakers on the trip, said it was possible the three would be released once the Congressional tour had ended.

Uighur activists, who Beijing says are terrorists trying to split China, have been struggling for decades for self-determination in remote Xinjiang, formally established as an autonomous region of China on Oct. 1, 19550.