East Turkestan: Security Forces Clear A Path For The Olympic Torch
Uyghur leaders, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer and Mr. Dolkun Isa have spoken out about the crackdown Chinese authorities are implementing in the Xinjiang region.
Below is an article reported by Agence France-Presse and published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
Rebiya Kadeer, head of the Uighur American Association, said that security forces were rounding up many people ahead of the flame's circuit of the western region late next month [June 2008].
"The Chinese authorities have been heavily cracking down on the Uighurs in order to bring the torch through East Turkestan," she said, using the Uighur term for the region.
"We have learned that many Uighurs are being detained and arrested by the Chinese authorities to prevent their peaceful protests in relation to the torch."
Leaders of Xinjiang's Uighurs, a Muslim central Asian people who have long chafed under Beijing's control, accuse China of harsh oppression and policies that they say are aimed at extinguishing their culture.
"I am opposed to the torch passage because it comes with severe repression of the Uighur people," she said.
Ms Kadeer's comments follow allegations Saturday [3 May 2008] by another overseas Uighur leader that more than 10,000 people were believed to have been rounded up in Xinjiang over the past four to five months.
"Everywhere, homes, hotels are searched. People are arrested," Dolkun Isa, secretary-general of the Munich-based World Uighur Congress, said.
"Even people with no past records have been arrested simply because they look suspicious."
Ms Kadeer, who spent six years in a Chinese jail from 1999 to 2005 and now lives in exile in the United States, also repeated her charge that China fabricated recent claims that it broke up Xinjiang-based terror cells targeting the Olympics.
"China is using the occasion to host the 2008 Olympics as an opportunity to further demonise the Uighur people's legitimate and peaceful struggle and justify its heavy-handed repression in East Turkestan," she said.
China plans to bring the torch to Xinjiang on June 25-27  as part of a relay through the mainland that began on Sunday in the lead up to the August Olympics.