Taiwan stops Uighur activist trip

25 September 2009   BBC

Taiwan will not allow exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer to visit the island as she had planned, a government official has said.

Ms Kadeer, a Chinese Muslim from Xinjiang, had been invited by an entertainer close to the opposition.

China has accused Ms Kadeer of orchestrating recent violence in Xinjiang - a charge she denies.

In July about 200 people were killed in riots between Uighurs and Han Chinese in which mostly Han were killed.

Taiwan is self-ruled after breaking away from China at the end of the civil war in 1949. Beijing considers the island part of its territory.

We have decided not to allow Kadeer entry considering that her visit could affect national interest and social order," Interior Minister Jiang Yi-huah was quoted as saying to members of parliament.

Despite opposition from China, a documentary about Ms Kadeer was screened this week in Taiwan's second city, Kaohsiung.

Local tourism officials had spoken out against the move, Taiwanese media reported, fearing it would drive Chinese tourist numbers down.

Rebiya Kadeer heads the World Uighur Congress, which represents the Uighur community in exile.


Statement from World Uyghur Congress President Rebiya Kadeer regarding remarks of Taiwan Interior Minister Chiang Yi-hua

September 25, 2009

On September 25, the government of Taiwan announced that it would ban a proposed visit by Uyghur democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer to the island. Ms. Kadeer had accepted an invitation from two private groups in Taiwan, but had not yet submitted a visa application. On the floor of Taiwan¡¦s Legislative Yuan, Taiwan¡¦s Interior Minister, Chiang Yi-hua, stated that the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), led by Ms. Kadeer, has close links with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and her visit should be banned because it would endanger Taiwan¡¦s national interest, public security and social order. In response to a lawmaker¡¦s question, Chiang stated: ¡§We don¡¦t wish to see the shadow of terrorism fall on Taiwan.¡¨ Taiwanese premier Wu Den-yih indicated on the same day that the decision of the Interior Ministry was final.

In a statement, Ms. Kadeer said ¡§I am very concerned about the future of Taiwan- I fear that the shadow of communism may fall on the people of Taiwan. The accusations leveled by the Interior Ministry of Taiwan are irresponsible and inflammatory, and the government¡¦s decision to ban my proposed visit is a rash one. It is a great disappointment that a democratic government of Taiwan should choose to bar me from entry. The Munich-based WUC, of which I am president, is fully committed to peace, democracy and human rights, and wholly opposed to all acts of violence and terrorism. The WUC has never had any links with terrorism. The WUC is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, a publicly-funded organization in the United States. By making such an accusation against the World Uyghur Congress, the Interior Ministry of Taiwan is in effect accusing the United States and Germany of being complicit in terror activities.

The Interior Ministry¡¦s remarks echo the Communist propaganda of the Beijing regime. It is unfortunate that the Communist Chinese government appears to have such a great influence over decisions regarding who is granted a visa to Taiwan. Similarly, it appears that the government of Taiwan has a double standard regarding the decision to grant visas to various human rights advocates whose activities are opposed by the Chinese government. I am saddened that the Taiwanese government is not immune to the stereotypes against Muslims that have been exploited by the Chinese government. The decision by the government of Taiwan and the remarks of its officials only perpetuate the stereotypes of Uyghur Muslims as terrorists, and repeat China¡¦s unsubstantiated claims regarding a Uyghur terrorist threat.

The people of Taiwan invited me to visit, and I accepted their invitation. I awaited the position of the government of Taiwan regarding my acceptance. The Taiwan government¡¦s decision to refuse to issue me a visa goes against the wishes of the people of Taiwan. The government¡¦s decision also harms Taiwan¡¦s hard-earned image as a democratic, free society. I call upon the government of Taiwan to retract the false accusations it has made against me and against the World Uyghur Congress, and honor the wishes of the Taiwanese people.¡¨