Uighur summit strains China-Japan relations
TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
‘The situation is now worse than 2009,’ the exiled president of the World Uighur Congress, Kadeer, says. AFP photoExiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer said yesterday her people faced a fight for their very existence against Chinese repression as a conference in Japan threatened to drive a wedge between Tokyo and Beijing.
China considers the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) a “splittist” organization and has condemned Japan’s issuing of a visa for Kadeer, who last visited the country in 2009. Kadeer was denied a Turkish visa in 2006 and 2007. In 2009, amid the Chinese crackdown, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said if Kadeer were to apply for a visa, Turkey would provide it. Ethnic Uighurs and their supporters from around the world gathered in the Japanese capital for a meeting aimed at pressing their claim for freedom from what Kadeer called China’s intensifying crackdown. “Before, we were fighting for our rights, we were protesting against China’s oppression,” Kadeer told reporters after opening the five-day conference. “But now we face a fight for our existence.”
“The situation is now worse than it was in 2009,” when Uighurs demonstrated and clashed with the Chinese authorities, she said. Many Uighurs complain that they are the victims of state-sanctioned persecution and marginalization in their homeland in northwest China, aided by the migration of millions of Han Chinese into the territory. The resulting ethnic tensions have led to sporadic flashes of violence in the Xinjiang region, which is home to nine million Uighurs.