Rebiya Kadeer, the leader of exiled Uighurs, on Wednesday criticized China for “intervening in Japanese affairs” by trying to stop Tokyo from issuing her a visa to attend a meeting of the World Uyghur Congress.
The president of the congress being held in Tokyo also dismissed Beijing’s claim that she is a “terrorist,” saying her group takes a “nonviolent” approach.
The group that brings together exiled Uighurs around the world has called for political independence for the Uighur people who live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in western China.
Beijing views the world congress as a separatist organization and objected to Tokyo hosting its four-day general assembly through Thursday, saying the Japanese government would be interfering in China’s internal affairs if it allowed the conference to be held in Japan.
Kadeer insisted the human rights situation of Uighurs has worsened due to unjustified arrests and fatal lynchings by Chinese authorities. “We are in a fateful crisis,” she said.
Citing sources in the autonomous region, Kadeer, who lives in exile in the United States, said more than 20 innocent Uighurs were imprisoned every month last year and 45 were executed, while others were tortured to death.
Also since the 2009 riots in the regional capital Urumqi that left some 200 people dead, several thousand Uighurs have disappeared after being secretly detained by Chinese security authorities, Kadeer alleged.
The number of disappearances at present is at an “unimaginable” level, she said.
Discrimination against Muslim Uigurs by Han Chinese over employment is also rampant, Kadeer said.
She said the ethnic group will continue to urge Japan and other countries to press China to improve its treatment of Uighurs.
Kadeer last visited Japan in fall 2009.