Jun 07, 2007

East Turkestan: George Bush Meets Rebiya Kadeer

US President George W. Bush has reiterated his support for Uyghur rights as he met with Ms. Rebiya Kadeer in Prague.

US President George W. Bush has reiterated his support for Uyghur rights as he met with Ms. Rebiya Kadeer in Prague.

Below is an article written published by the Uyghur American Association:

US President George W. Bush met the exiled leader of China's Uighur Muslims on Tuesday [5 June 2007], US Uighurs said, as he accused Beijing of jailing her sons in retaliation against her human rights campaign.

Rights activists described Bush's meeting with Rebiya Kadeer as significant amid international pressure on China to put a stop to what they called serious human rights abuses ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August 2008.

Bush met Kadeer at the sidelines of a conference in Prague attended by political dissidents from around the world shortly before he flew to Germany to attend the G8 summit starting Wednesday [6 June 2007], a statement from the Uighur American Association said in Washington.

Before the meeting, Bush highlighted Kadeer as the symbol of struggle for the 10 million mostly Muslim Uighurs, the largest ethnic group in China's Xinjiang region.

"Another dissident I will meet with here is Rebiya Kadeer of China, whose sons have been jailed in what we believe is an act of retaliation for her human rights activities," Bush said in his speech at the Prague conference.

"The talent of men and women like Rebiya is the greatest resource of their nations -- far more valuable than the weapons of their army or oil under the ground," he said.

T. Kumar, Washington-based advocacy director for Asia Pacific for Amnesty International, said Bush's meeting with Kadeer sent a "powerful message" to the Chinese leadership to "take constructive steps" to improve human rights before the Olympics.

"The jailing of Kadeer's children is an example of how China uses innocent family members as hostages to silence political dissidents," Kumar said.

Kadeer's son Ablikim Abdiriyim, the latest family member to be jailed, was sentenced in April to nine years in prison for what Beijing called "secessionist" activities.

Two other sons were jailed for alleged tax evasion while her daughter was put under house arrest for a specific period last year.

Kadeer herself was imprisoned for six years after Beijing accused her of leaking "state secrets" to a US congressional delegation visiting the region in the 1990s.

She was released in March 2005 and allowed to go into exile in the United States, from where she continues to speak up for her people. China has continued to express anger over her comments while in exile.

A millionaire businesswoman before her arrest, she was among nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize last year.