PRAGUE — An exiled Uighur activist accused China on Friday of destroying the cultures of the country’s minorities and urged democratic nations to force China to change its policies on minorities.
Despite protests from China, activist Rebiya Kadeer spoke before the “Peace, Democracy and Human Rights in Asia” conference organized by the Forum 2000 Foundation established by former Czech President Vaclav Havel.
The Chinese Embassy in Prague protested her appearance — and that of the Dalai Lama — at the conference because it said Kadeer’s aim was “to promote her separatist views.”
Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer privately met with the Dalai Lama Friday, Fischer spokesman Roman Prorok said. He gave no details of the 20-minute meeting, which could anger China.
Former Premier Mirek Topolanek met the Tibetan spiritual leader during his previous visit a year ago.
China accuses Kadeer, the U.S.-based leader of the World Uyghur Congress, of inciting recent riots between Uighurs and members of the dominant Han Chinese group in western Xinjiang province that killed at least 197 people and injured more than 1,700. She denies it.
“China has accelerated the assimilation and destruction of the cultures of ethnic minorities in China,” Kadeer said.
“Now the Chinese government tries to assimilate, to destroy the ethnic minorities’ culture as soon as possible,” she said. “I urge the international community, democratic countries and non-governmental organizations to accelerate their pressure (on China).”
Kadeer said her people have been using nonviolent ways to promote their rights and called on the Chinese government to directly “sit and talk with me” and other leaders of minority groups, including the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai lama.
A documentary about Kadeer, “The 10 Conditions of Love,” was being shown in Prague on Friday as part of the conference.