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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Rebiya Kadeer a small but charismatic thorn in Beijing's side

August 3, 2009

Peter Alford, Rowan Callick and Michael Sainsbury | August 01, 2009

Article from:  The Australian

UIGHUR leader Rebiya Kadeer has replaced the Dalai Lama as China's enemy
No 1.

THE new No1 hate figure targeted by the ruling Chinese Communist Party
arrives in Australia in a few days: Rebiya Kadeer.



Although the Dalai Lama is also due to come to Australia later in the
year, Kadeer -- the charismatic 63-year-old president of the World
Uighur Association -- has in the past month seized the Tibetan spiritual
leader's place as China's Public Enemy No 1.

This has sent her global profile soaring, and attracted unprecedented
interest in the Uighur cause.

Her hot-to-handle visit next week -- against which Beijing has protested
in vain -- is further battering Australia's already rocky relationship
with China.

And it points the way to future tensions between Beijing and democratic
liberal countries more generally, as the Chinese government seeks to
press its soft power globally, extending ever wider the circle of exiled
leaders to whom it intends to provide no respite. Kadeer, who comes from
Xinjiang, the Queensland-sized region of northwest China that is the
home of the nine million Uighurs, lives in exile in Washington.

Last year it was the unrest and riots in Tibet, another huge region of
western China, that saw the Dalai Lama blamed as a "splittist"
manipulator of violent protests. This year the same mantle has been cast
on Kadeer.

She has become a non-person in China, with articles that include her
name being blocked by the "net police" even from the Google search engine.

What Kadeer describes as mere phone calls to her family in Xinjiang have
been portrayed by Beijing as messages masterminding the inter-ethnic
violence that caused about 200 deaths there a month ago.

Pan Zhiping, a researcher at Xinjiang Academy of Social Science,
provides a sense of the outrage from Han Chinese, who suffered the
initial casualties from the violence.

She told The Weekend Australian that Kadeer, who was one of China's
wealthiest businesswomen before being jailed in 1999 for five years for
political offences, "was not a good businesswoman, she just had a
start-up and accumulated her money from tax evasion".

She says: "Ordinary Uighurs are not calling for independence, only
so-called elite Uighur intellectuals. Rebiya was influenced by her
husband, who was a third-class professor. These people agitated the
street violence and manipulated extreme racism.

"She is rotten meat, the kind that only attracts flies. But she will
have her verdict when the official investigation (on the riots) is
finished -- lies can't be covered up. The human right she advocates are
evil rights, murderers' rights." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said
on Thursday that while being "deeply saddened by the loss of life and
violence" in Xinjiang: "I will have to look at the case for exact
information ... (which) I do not have."

The only inquiry so far announced is being conducted by the Chinese
central government. On a visit to Japan this week, Kadeer urged the
establishment of an international commission to examine what she claimed
to be the disappearance of 10,000 Uighurs in Xinjiang last month.

China's ambassador to Japan said during Kadeer's stay in Tokyo: "She is
a criminal," and compared her to Aum Shinrikyo, the cult leader who
unleashed sarin gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995.

Mamtimin Ala, the general secretary of the Uighur Association of
Australia, the main hosts for Kadeer's week-long visit, said: "China has
blamed her for the troubles in Xinjiang in order to externalise what is
an internal problem -- a classic Chinese tactic, as it also does with
the Dalai Lama, to whip up nationalistic fervour, brainwashing its own
citizens.

"This also transforms perceptions among ordinary Chinese of the Uighurs
into an evil people, an enemy within. As a result, reconciliation now
seems almost impossible," she says.

After Kadeer this week gave the foreign correspondents' club in Tokyo a
lengthy, graphic and doubtless highly partisan account of the violent
riots on July 5, a reporter from China's People's Daily posed what he
perhaps thought was a "gotcha" question.

"It sounds like you were there," he noted. "How could you have such
detailed knowledge when at the time you were tens of thousands of
kilometres away in Washington?" Kadeer allowed herself a hard little
smile before answering.

The element of the case against her most quoted by China's state media
is a telephone tap allegedly of her saying: "Something will happen in
Urumqi."

Kadeer says she learnt of the gathering Uighur unrest, provoked by a
security crackdown in Xinjiang and local anger over the June mob
killings of Uighur factory workers in Guangdong, and called to warn her
family.

She has four sons -- two imprisoned since July 5 -- a daughter, numerous
grandchildren and a brother still in Xinjiang, and says family members
are the usual suspects to be rounded up when trouble flares.

She does not deny being closely plugged into contemporary affairs in
Xinjiang, which, like other dissident Uighurs, she prefers to call East
Turkestan, even after five years in Chinese prisons and four years in US
exile.

It's one of the reasons, she says, the Chinese authorities hate her so.

That, and the fact she was once a poster-woman for ethnic integration in
post-Maoist China, a self-made multi-millionaire and influential figure
on policy towards the 55 minority nationalities -- who comprise 10 per
cent of China's 1.3 billion population -- until radicalised by a violent
suppression of Uighur unrest in 1997.

Beijing has sought to reposition her World Uighur Congress (WUC) rather
than the shadowy East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as the main
driver of Uighur violence, linking both to al-Qa'ida and international
Islamic terrorism.

There is no reason to doubt the genuine repugnance among Chinese
officials and representatives abroad that so soon after the killings of
at least 192 people, mostly Han Chinese according to the official
account, countries such as Japan and Australia are hosting visits by the
strongest voice in the world for Uighur separatism.

It was notable this week in Tokyo how carefully Japanese officials and
the ruling Liberal Democratic Party handled her visit -- a likely
indicator of the sort of damage they feared to China relations.

But Kadeer got her visa and she got her LDP meeting, which suggests the
governments of Japan -- and Australia, the US and other countries -- do
not believe the Beijing narrative about her associations with Islamic
terrorism.

ETIM is a UN-designated terrorist organisation -- originally on China's
post-9/11 advice to George W. Bush's White House. Yet Kadeer has been
given refuge in Washington since 2005 and granted visas by countries,
including Australia, that are members in good standing of the coalition
against Islamic terror.

In the post-Guantanamo world, the cloak of international legitimacy
cannot be earned by simply designating separatist movements as
associates of international terrorists.

In fact, many Americans find it harder to tolerate evidence recently
produced that the Bush defence department allowed Chinese interrogators
inside Guantanamo to question 22 Uighur terror suspects in 2002 --
though the same department flatly refused American congressmen and women
access to camp inmates.

The US has refused Chinese demands to return them, and the last of them
are now being relocated to third countries -- five at first to Albania,
and now four to Bermuda and 13 to Palau, which recognises Taiwan rather
than China diplomatically.

Kadeer told The Weekend Australian in Tokyo: "While I was in China I
followed the Communist Party (line) and was obedient to the government.

"I know well when the Chinese government says something which is lies
and which is truth. It knows if it stops the voice of Rebiya, it stops
the voice of the Uighurs in the world."

Small, intense and unusually charismatic, Kadeer talks as if she
embodies the Uighur spirit of independence, and particularly since July
5 that seems close to the truth.

The WUC, a confederation of Uighur exile groups, is passionate but
thinly spread and seems not very well organised. When Kadeer came to
Tokyo two years ago, soon after taking over the leadership, she
attracted only scant media attention, and certainly not three official
protests from Beijing.

But in the past 25 days, she and her cause have attracted more headlines
and sympathetic interest than in the four years since she arrived in the
US, after Bush secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's personal
intervention with the Chinese led to her release.

Kadeer's name and cause are increasingly linked in international
commentary with that of the Dalai Lama and Tibet.

And she is exploiting that association for all it's worth.

"Of course, I have chosen the way of the Dalai Lama, so I will travel
all over the world, I will give true information about East Turkestan --
I want to become (like) the Dalai Lama, to bring my homeland to freedom
and liberation," she says.

While disavowing violence, Kadeer now refuses to rule out shifting from
her established position of seeking proper political and religious
autonomy for Xinjiang within the People's Republic, to a campaign for
full independence.

That decision, she says, will be taken by the WUC once its campaign for
an independent UN investigation of the July 5 uprising and the
subsequent Chinese crackdown is settled.

Kadeer, like the Dalai Lama, has put a large dent in what one
pro-Beijing Uighur official recently called "the Great Wall of ethnic
unity" allegedly bounding both the Han Chinese and the minority nations.

She is an opponent who came from inside the wall, who says policies she
once supported and thrived under are now being turned to crushing the
Uighurs.

She seems less inclined than the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet 50 years
ago, to moderate her criticisms of Beijing in order to foster a dialogue
on autonomy. "I cannot wait 50 years," she says.
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