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Forum LockedBrave Uighur Woman

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    Posted: 20-Mar-2005 at 03:26

Just thought it interesting an old Uighur woman speaking out.

Freed Prisoner Urges World to Push China on Rights

By Paul Eckert, Asia Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The world must not place booming business opportunities in China ahead of promoting human rights in the Communist country, a top political prisoner said on Saturday, days after her release from a Chinese jail.

Reuters Photo


Rebiya Kadeer, an ethnic Uighur businesswoman from the far-western Chinese region of Xinjiang, told Reuters she would use her new freedom to win greater rights for her fellow Muslims and urged others to "pursue human rights from every angle."

"These businessmen who have a lot of business in China should look deep into their hearts and see what's truly important: money, business or actually one's life," she said.

"I would give up any business now to save one life. If there are no human rights, business will go nowhere," she said in her native Turkic language, Uighur, in an interview translated by her daughter.

China, with economic growth of about 9 percent a year, has drawn tens of billions of dollars in international investment.

Kadeer, 58, flew into Washington on Thursday, following her release on medical parole days before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) visited China and just as the State Department said it would not seek a resolution critical of China at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (news - web sites) in Geneva.

She had served nearly six years of an eight-year jail sentence for "illegally providing state intelligence abroad" after she sent newspaper clippings to her U.S.-based husband.

The former director of a Xinjiang trading firm, Kadeer's women's rights work in mainly Muslim Xinjiang earned her a seat on the Chinese parliament's top advisory body.

"Actually, being elevated to the parliamentary position was the beginning of my troubles," she said.

"I thought I could speak to the government for my people and tell them that their policies toward us were wrong and point out the discrimination and lack of education spending on Uighurs," Kadeer said.


Kadeer said authorities had warned her not to speak to the media after her release, reminding her that six of her 11 children remained in China. But she forcefully addressed sensitive questions and described harsh prison conditions.

"There's no forgiveness for political prisoners. We can't even look at each other and smile," Kadeer said. She said she had never heard of the September 11 attacks, and that Beijing had won the right to host the 2008 Olympics.

She said guards "never laid a finger on me," but described political prisoners who were beaten lame and a 96-year-old Uighur woman who didn't know why she was in jail. Prisoners were tortured within earshot to frighten her, she said.

Many of the 8 million Uighurs in Xinjiang, which has an overall population of about 19 million, seek greater autonomy for the region, although some want to restore the brief independence the region had as East Turkestan in 1938-49 -- a campaign that has drawn a relentless crackdown by Beijing.

The diminutive, white-haired Kadeer, who appeared to be in vigorous health, stopped short of calling for Xinjiang's independence -- anathema to Beijing, Communist inheritor of the multiethnic Chinese empires of ancient times.

She said that despite her ordeal, "I still want the same things for my people: basic freedom, basic human rights. I want them to have a happy life, as the Chinese do."


"There's not enough food or housing for Uighurs, yet they keep moving Chinese migrants from Chinese cities to Xinjiang," she said.

Kadeer said her spirits were sustained by the courage of fellow Uighur prisoners and by "the hope that one day, the American government, the American people and the world could get me out of prison and could bring happiness to our people."

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20050319/wl_nm/r ights_china_dc_2
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