Uyghur exile group calls on Merkel to lobby Wen for their rights

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Tuesday September 12, 2006

Munich- The World Uyghur Congress called Tuesday on German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of this week's visit by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to Germany to lobby for the rights of the Muslim minority in China. "The World Uyghur Congress urges you to publicly express your government's commitment to ensuring that fundamental values such as basic human rights and freedom are a part of any trade and investment agreement between your two countries," Dilxat Raxit, president of Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, said in an appeal to the chancellor.

In an open letter to Merkel ahead of Wen's visit Wednesday and Thursday, the group of Uyghur exiles accused China of using the global war on terrorism launched after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States as a pretext to suppress and persecute the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region of north-western China.

"Arbitrary arrest, mass detention, unfair trial and torture are commonly and systematically used for Uyghur dissidents," the letter said.

China's communists absorbed the region after winning the Chinese Civil War in 1949, but many Uyghurs have since agitated for the reinstatement of their earlier republic of East Turkestan.

"Prime Minister Wen, as a head of paramount political power in China, has an ultimate responsibility for the systematic denial of basic human rights of Uyghurs, Tibetans and other people in China," Dilxat wrote in his appeal to Merkel.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur