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China Terror List Includes Muslim Groups - 2003-12-15

The Chinese government has come up with its own list of terrorist groups and is calling for international assistance to help fight them. Human rights activists worry this list will be used to crackdown on Islamic minorities.

The list names four groups, all of which are Islamic and tied to some members of the minority Uighur group who want to set up an independent state in northwestern China.

The list also includes 11 individuals who the government says are linked to efforts to create what would be known as Eastern Turkistan in what is China's Xinjiang region.

Zhao Yongshan, the deputy director of China's Anti-Terrorism bureau, briefed reporters in Beijing. He said those on the list have been responsible for a series of bombings, assassinations, arson and poison attacks in China's Xinjiang region. He said these attacks have endangered the safety, life and property of Chinese people of all ethnic groups.

Mr. Zhao charges the alleged terrorists have operated inside and outside China. He called for neighboring countries to help by extraditing those on the list and freezing the groups' assets.

China says its call is part of its support for the global anti-terrorism war.

But international human rights groups say they fear the new designation will give Chinese authorities an excuse to persecute members of Xinjiang's Turkish-speaking Uighur minority.

Nicolas Bequelin is with the Hong Kong-based group, Human Rights in China. He said he fears officials will not draw a line between violent groups and other that simply spread information. "The Chinese government does not differentiate between violent actions and non-violent actions," he said.

Dolqun Isa is one of the 11 individuals that China now considers a terrorist. "If some Uighurs want self determination, want to talk about human rights, Chinese government says all Uighurs are terrorists, not only me. As the Chinese government sees it, all Uighurs are terrorists," he said.

The organizations named as terrorist groups by the Chinese government are: The East Turkistan Islamic Movement, the Eastern Turkistan Liberation Organization, the World Uighur Youth Congress, and the East Turkistan Information Center.

One of the groups listed, the Germany-based East Turkistan Information Center, mainly publishes articles on the Internet. Chinese officials accuse the organization of engaging in what they termed as "cyber-terrorism."