04/13/2005, 00.00
CHINA
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Rebiya Kadeer speaks out against torture of young Uighurs by Beijing

In an interview with the BBC, Kadeer speaks out against the situation in prisons.  In a policy-paper, Beijing paints a rosy picture on human rights.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) -- Not a leader but "a soldier fighting for her people."  This is how Rebiya Kadeer, the 58-year-old Uighur political dissent, defined herself in an interview on April 12.  Broadcast of the interview was banned in China.  In it, Kadeer spoke out against injustices faced by the Uighur ethnic minority and testified to the atrocities that occur in prisons.

"Every day, I could hear the cries of Uighurs who were being tortured, at times without even knowing why," she said in a television interview, adding that "on one occasion, prison guards were dragging a young man towards the torture chambers.  He turned his head, saw me behind bars and said, 'Mother, what are you doing here? Young people like me are going to jail so as to save mothers like you!'"  During the interview, Mrs Kadeer also clarified her role in Uighur leadership.  "I don't know much about being a leader.  I think of myself as simply a soldier who is fighting for the rights of her people."  Rebiya Kadeer was released from prison on the eve of the official visit to Beijing of Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State.  Mrs Kadeer is currently in the United States working for an organization founded by her husband that strives for the civil liberties and independence of the 8 million Muslims that live in the northern Xinjiang region of China.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirms Kadeer's testimony.  Yesterday, HRW released a dossier on the situation of the Uighur ethnic group in China.  The dossier includes official orders and internal police reports of China's public security forces.  These documents prove that the violence and discrimination carried out against the Uighur are known to and supported by the organs of central power.  One official document says that "parents and legal guardians may not allow minors to participate in religious activities."  According to HRW, the Uighurs are not allowed to practise their religion publicly, to study from or carry books on religion, or wear religious symbols.  The Chinese government gives their imam precise instructions on where the faithful can meet and what can and cannot be discussed.  The expression of religious sentiment in public places, such as offices and schools, is absolutely unthinkable.

Instead, Beijing paints a rosy picture of China's rights record in a policy paper released today.  The 41-page document is the eighth on human rights published by the government since 1991.  According to the State Council, the Communist Party organ that drafted the report, "The year 2004 saw a process of effective improvement in all fields of human, civil and religious rights."  Again according to Beijing, "In the past year, the government cracked down on functionaries who violated such rights."

China denies any repression against the expression of religion, but states that it simply wants to defend the state from forces that fight "to achieve secession and "to spread religious extremism."
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