Uighur leader accepts invitation to visit Taiwan

TAIPEI — Exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer has accepted an invitation to visit Taiwan, supporters said on Wednesday in a development handing the island’s China-friendly government a political dilemma.

If the Taiwan authorities grant a visa to Kadeer, they are likely to infuriate Beijing, which says she is a “criminal” who masterminded ethnic violence in her home region of Xinjiang in northwest China in July.


“Kadeer expressed her thanks for the invitation and said she will certainly visit Taiwan,” said Marie Lin of the Taiwan Youth Anti-Communist Corps following a telephone discussion with Kadeer on Tuesday.

“She is a very warm and gentle woman. We hope the Taiwanese people can see for themselves how Beijing attacks its dissidents with lies,” she told AFP.

Guts United Taiwan, another pro-independence group which joined the corps in inviting Kadeer, said Wednesday its leader, Freddy Lin, was now in Washington.

Lin, also the lead vocalist of Taiwanese black metal band “Chthonic,” was expected to meet the Uighur leader there later Wednesday local time to finalise the trip, according to Guts United Taiwan.

“Rebiya Kadeer hopes to be able to carry out face-to-face exchanges with various groups in Taiwan at an appropriate time,” said Dilxat Raxit, a Sweden-based spokesman for the World Uighur Congress, which Kadeer heads.

When asked if now was an appropriate time, he said this depended on Taiwan’s ability to carry out “flexible and active diplomacy”.

The invitation puts Taiwan’s government — voted to power last year on a promise to improve ties with China — in a no-win situation, according to analysts.

China will be infuriated if Kadeer is granted a visa, while pro-independence groups at home and rights groups abroad will be angered if she is not.

“This is a decision-making dilemma for the government as whatever it does there will be criticism,” said George Tsai, a political scientist at Chinese Culture University in Taipei.

“If Taipei again steps on Beijing’s red line by granting Kadeer a visa, Beijing is likely to use its stick now rather than carrots.”

He said China could punish Taiwan by not signing a trade pact or financial cooperation agreement or by vetoing a Taiwanese plan to join specialised United Nations agencies.

Premier Wu Den-yih would not say Tuesday if the government would permit the visit, but said a decision would be announced by the end of the week.

China is already simmering over the screening this week in Taiwan’s second-largest city Kaohsiung of a biopic about Kadeer, triggering a wave of cancelled hotel reservations by Chinese tour groups.

“The Kaohsiung city government insists on screening the film to defend the freedom of speech,” said Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

“This is not a reckless political move but a demonstration of social values in Taiwan,” she said in a statement.

Screening of the film was moved from a film library to a cinema on Wednesday due to the large crowd hoping to see it.

Meanwhile, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin was quoted by the state-run Central News Agency as saying he would support and welcome the screening of Kadeer’s film in the capital city.

Kadeer, who has lived in exile in the Washington area since being freed from a Chinese prison in 2005, denies orchestrating the July violence. About 200 people died when Uighurs and Han Chinese clashed.

The Kadeer film and a recent visit by exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama to Taiwan have strained cross-strait ties, which have otherwise improved markedly since President Ma Ying-jeou came to power here in 2008.


ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS IN EAST TURKISTAN Uyghur Foundation Stichting Oeigoeren Nederland Stichting Uighur Jurat Barat  Stichting Uyghur Oost-Turkestan Uyghur Logo Nederlanders Holland Europe HUMAN RIGHTS  Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Erkin Alptekin Rebiya Kadeer

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