03/24/2011, 00.00
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Rebiya Kadeer denounces new Beijing crackdown on Uyghur"

According to the leader of the ethnic minority in Xinjiang, the democratic wave across Africa and the Middle East "terrifies China, which wants at all costs to destroy anything that does not conform".

Beijing (AsiaNews) - China has launched a new campaign of repression against the Uyghur ethnic minority to oppose any separatist movement and keep the democratic wave that is passing through the Middle East and North Africa, out of its territory.

The warning comes from well known Chinese dissident Rebiya Kadeer who, during a meeting with Australian parliamentarians, denounced "new violent and repressive measures" against the minority, which lives in the northern province of Xinjiang.

According to Kadeer - invited to speak at a parliamentary committee in Canberra despite objections from Beijing - China "is afraid of what's happening in the world. What happened in Egypt and Tunisia sent shock waves through the Chinese leadership that people's patience could run out and that people will one day rise up and challenge the authority of the regime "

It should be also considered that the Uyghur are a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, who define themselves as "almost Middle Eastern" and refer to their own territory as "East Turkestan". In fact, by language, appearance, religion and customs, the Uyghur have absolutely nothing to do with the Han ethnic group that predominates in the country. Kadeer, arrested several times and even sentenced to death by the central government in Beijing, refutes charges that she is a separatist, instead claiming that she is fighting for the preservation of the Uyghur language and culture, that China is bent on wiping out.

The visit to Australia has angered the government of China, which in 2009 had asked Canberra not to grant the activist a visa labelling her "a dangerous separatist." According to the Communist Party, she is behind the riots of July 2009, when in Urumqi - the capital of Xinjiang - the Uyghur launched protests asking for more autonomy.

For Kadeer, "Although China has changed its tactics, China has not changed its assaults upon Uygur people's religious beliefs, cultural identities, freedom of speech and economic life, which are central to the Chinese government's project of speedy assimilation of our people in China".
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