Two U.S. lawmakers are urging Congress and the Obama administration to
strongly condemn China's crackdown on Uighur Muslims in the
northwestern region of Xinjiang, where violence in the city of Urumqi
left more than 150 people dead. A Uighur activist responded again to Chinese government
allegations that she helped fuel the violence.
the Uighur activist who Chinese authorities alleged helped stir up
demonstrations, appeared at a news conference with two lawmakers
seeking to refocus congressional attention on the situation in Xinjiang.
William Delahunt's Subcommittee on Human Rights, International
Organizations, and Oversight has held a series of hearings on the
He rejects Beijing's allegations against Kadeer,
calling them part of an ongoing campaign by Chinese authorities to
falsely portray Uighurs as terrorists.
"The regime has gone so
far as to call her a terrorist and responsible for the violence in
China, just as they did in the case of the Uighur men wrongfully
imprisoned in Guantanamo," said Delahunt.
Speaking through an
interpreter, Kadeer said she is against violence and denied playing a
role in fueling protests. She said a crackdown on Uighurs is
continuing, with authorities calling for severe punishment of protest
leaders, including execution.
"The crackdown is still ongoing,"
said Kadeer. "Uighurs are being arrested, Chinese mobs are still after
innocent Uighurs and we do not believe the statistics put out by the
Chinese government. The actual number we believe is much higher."
Chinese government said at least 156 people were killed and more than
1,000 wounded as a result of clashes or the crackdown by authorities.
in Xinjiang have largely been between the Han Chinese majority and the
Uighur minority, a Turkic group sharing similarities with people in
Uighurs accuse Beijing of discrimination and
repression, while China's government accuses Uighurs, who comprise
nearly half of Xinjiang's 20 million people, of using terrorism in the
pursuit of independence.
A resolution Congressman Delahunt is
introducing condemns violent repression by the Chinese government of
what it calls "peaceful Uighur protests."
The resolution notes
the Chinese government's official campaign to encourage Han Chinese
migration into the traditional Uighur homeland in Xinjiang, which it
calls East Turkestan. But it also expresses sadness at the loss of
both Han Chinese and Uighur life during recent upheavals.
resolution also calls on Beijing to end what it calls "slander of
Rebiya Kadeer, who lawmakers say supports democracy and a peaceful
resolution of differences between Uighur people and the People's
Republic of China.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher asserts that
successive U.S. administrations have failed to adopt a strong enough
stance against Chinese policies in Xinjiang, and says the resolution
will put Congress on record on recent events.
"What's going on
in East Turkestan and the slaughter of the Uighurs and the suppression
of their efforts to obtain their own freedom is not just the business
of the Uighurs, it is the business of free people everywhere and
especially it's the business of the people of the U.S. who should be in
alliance with those people everywhere who are struggling to make this a
more peaceful and a more democratic world," he said.
symbolic resolution urges Beijing to allow observers and journalists
access to protest areas, and access to trials of those charged with
protest-related crimes. It says any innocent individuals involved in
protests should be released, and urges Beijing not to seek the death
penalty for those engaged in peaceful dissent.
Delahunt also reiterated their anger at U.S. military authorities for
allowing Chinese intelligence officials to interrogate Uighur detainees
at the U.S. naval detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2002.
has raised the matter in successive congressional hearings dealing with
U.S. detainee policy, noting that he and Congressman Rohrabacher were
not permitted access to the 17 Uighurs held at Guantanamo for nearly
Delahunt said he met with four Uighurs who were
sent to Bermuda in June, adding he is scheduling another hearing on the
issue next week at which he hopes to hear a direct explanation from the