09/13/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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Beijing accuses Nobel peace candidate Rebiya Kadeer of terrorism

China's Foreign Ministry accused the Uighur activist, released from prison in China in March 2005, of conniving with "known terrorist organizations" striving for the independence of the northern Xinjiang province.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, yesterday accused an exiled politician Rebiya Kadeer, a candidate for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, of maintaining links with terrorist organisations and attempting to undermine China's stability.

Qin said Kadeer – who belongs to the member of the Turkic-speaking Uighur minority – was seeking to divide the northern province of Xinjiang from the rest of China together with "known terrorist organizations".

The spokesman said: "She was arrested for endangering national security and sentenced. She connives with terrorist forces abroad and engages in anti-Chinese secessionist movements."

Rebiya Kadeer was released from imprisonment in China on 17 March 2005, whereupon she asked for and obtained refugee status in the United States, where she now lives. The 58-year-old woman was the director of an established trade company as well as member on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference for Xinjiang. She was arrested in 1999 for spreading news abroad that was defined by China as "material containing state secrets".

Condemned to eight years in prison, she was released a few days before the visit of the American Secretary of State to Beijing, just when America declared it would not present a motion critical of China at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

Although the prison guards never laid a finger on her, she described the abuse of other political prisoners, who were beaten until they were lame. After her release, she recalled a 96-year-old Uighur woman who was in prison without knowing why. The guards would torture prisoners within earshot to frighten her.

To hit back at the woman because of her continued denunciations from abroad, on 11 May last year, Chinese police arrested two employees of her firm, the Kadeer trade centre, and a few days later, one of her sons, Ablikim Abdiriyim, disappeared. He had already been imprisoned in a laogai from 1999 to 2001.

Xinjiang has 19 million inhabitants, including eight million Uighurs. They are calling for more autonomy but some groups want to restore the independence enjoyed by the region from 1938 to 1949, when it was called East Turkestan. Beijing cracks down on all separatist groups with implacable violence, accusing them of collusion with Islamic fundamentalism coming from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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