Apr 26, 2016

East Turkestan: India Revokes Visa for WUC Leader

The Chinese government has been blamed for India’s decision to revoke a visa originally issued for Mr Dolkun Isa, chairman of the executive committee of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC). Mr Isa was to travel to Dharamsala in late April 2016 to attend a conference at the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile, to discuss the human rights situation in China. Sophie Richardson, China Director for Human Rights Watch, criticised the decision, expressing concern over the apparent willingness by foreign governments to acquiesce to Beijing’s demands. 


Below is an article published by The New York Times:

BEIJING — A prominent democracy activist said on Monday that he had been blocked from traveling to India to meet the Dalai Lama after the Chinese government urged Indian officials to rescind his visa.

The activist, Dolkun Isa, had been scheduled to attend a conference this week in Dharamsala, the Himalayan city that is home to the Tibetan government in exile. Indian officials had initially approved his visa, Mr. Isa said, but on Saturday, after China publicly denounced the decision, the government said his visa had been canceled.

“I recognize and understand the difficult position that the Indian government found itself, and regret that my trip has generated such unwarranted controversy,” Mr. Isa said in a statement.

Mr. Isa, 48, is a leader of the World Uyghur Congress, a Munich-based group that advocates self-determination for Xinjiang, an expansive region in western China that is home to a large population of Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority. He now lives in Germany.

China has labeled Mr. Isa, who fled the country in 1994, a terrorist, accusing him of aiding violent separatists in Xinjiang. Mr. Isa has denied the accusations.

After news of Mr. Isa’s planned trip to Dharamsala emerged last week, Chinese diplomats were livid. Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, “Bringing him to justice is the due obligation of relevant countries.”

But commentators in India defended the decision to grant him a visa, hailing it as a sign that New Delhi was standing up to Beijing. Some news organizations described the issuing of the visa as retaliation for China’s opposition to an India-led effort to add Maulana Masood Azhar, a Pakistani militant leader, to a United Nations list of terrorists.

By Saturday, it appeared India had backed down. In a terse email to Mr. Isa, officials said that they were denying the visa because of “new factors that have come to our notice,” according to a copy of the message provided by Mr. Isa.

Many people in India criticized the government’s decision to cancel Mr. Isa’s visa.

“What was all that chest thumping earlier,” Omar Abdullah, a prominent Indian politician, wrote on Twitter.

Officials at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi did not respond to a request for comment. The Indian Embassy in Beijing said it did not have any information.

The episode appeared to be another indication of Beijing’s growing clout abroad.

Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch, said government leaders were increasingly acquiescing to China’s efforts to influence whom they met and whom they allowed into their countries.

“One can’t help but wonder: What other decisions do those governments cede to Beijing, and are they not fearful of the longer-term consequences?” she wrote in an email.