10/09/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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Chinese government uses terrorism charge to eliminate Uighur people

Thus claims Rebiya Kadeer, Nobel Peace Prize candidate for her defence of Uighur rights and of women's rights in China. She described the accusations of terrorism levelled by Beijing as unfounded and said she hoped for more international attention for her people's plight.

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Rebiya Kadeer, human rights activist of the Uighurs, says her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize has drawn world attention to Beijing's oppression of her people. She has denied all links with terrorism.

"I am not a terrorist," 60-year-old Kadeer said. "The Chinese government and the international community know I am opposed to all forms of terrorism."

Shortly after she was nominated for the Nobel prize, Beijing accused her of "sabotaging peace and stability of Chinese society", of collaborating with terrorist groups and of organizing violent activities to attain the secession of the northern province of Xinijiang (home of the Turkish-speaking Uighur minority).

Kadeer, a millionaire businesswoman, was arrested in 1999 and imprisoned for five years for disseminating "state secrets" abroad. Kadeer has always maintained the material consisted of newspaper clippings sent by fax to her husband abroad. She was released on 17 March 2005 after a widespread international campaign and obtained refugee status in the United States. Since her release, her firm has been submitted to continued checks and three of her sons have been detained since May.

Kadeer's response was that "all the Chinese charges are false. Today the Chinese government has used the charge of terrorism to persecute and eliminate the Uighur people."

She said she hoped Uighurs held in detention abroad on terrorism charges would not be extradited to China, where they would be "executed" like "all the Uighurs who were extradited to China in the past."

Since the annexation in 1949 of Uighur territory – which was the independent state of eastern Turkestan from 1938 to 1949 – Beijing has promoted a massive wave immigration of ethnic Han to Xinjiang, and has oppressed the people's religion and culture. The region is rich in oil and natural resources, used above all to boost the rich southern provinces.

Kadeer was nominated as a defender of Uighur rights and of women's rights in China. Among the 191 candidates for the Nobel, which will be awarded on 13 October, there is also the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, for his role in talks leading to the Aceh peace agreement in August 2005.

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