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Friday 18 August 2017
News updated at 5:35 PM IST

Chinese dissidents to meet in India to seek democracy

Anirban Bhaumik, April 21, 2016, New Delhi, DHNS 1:36 IST

Delhi grants visa to Uyghur leader

Isa, the chairman of the executive committee of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), told DH from Munich that he had already been granted visa by the Indian government to attend the conference in Dharamsala. Image courtesy Twitter.
Chinese dissidents from around the world will assemble in India next week to hold an international conference seeking transition to democracy in the communist country.

New Delhi not only gave its go-ahead to the organisers to hold the conference in India, but also granted visas to Chinese dissidents, including the World Uyghur Congress leader, Dolkun Isa, who has been dubbed as a “terrorist” by Beijing. The conference will be held from April 28 to May 1 at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh – the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Dalai Lama, who has been leading Tibetans’ struggle against Chinese rule in Tibet, will receive the delegates and address them.

New Delhi’s move, which is likely to raise hackles in Beijing, comes at a time, when India is upset over China’s decision to block the proposal to impose United Nations’ sanctions on Pakistan-based terrorist leader Moulana Masood Azhar.

Isa, the chairman of the executive committee of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), told DH from Munich that he had already been granted visa by the Indian government to attend the conference in Dharamsala. However, he would take a final call only after assessing his security in India, as China got a Red Corner Notice issued against him by Interpol, he said.

Isa is a front-line leader of Uyghurs’ struggle for greater political and religious freedom in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. He was jailed repeatedly for his activism against Chinese rule in what Uyghurs call “East Turkestan”. He fled China in 1997, sought asylum in Europe and finally became a citizen of Germany in 2006. He has been campaigning against “atrocities” on Uyghurs and “human rights” violation by the Chinese government and its security forces.

Beijing got a Red Notice against Isa alleging that he was a terrorist and the vice-president of separatist East Turkestan Liberation Organisation. He, however, denied having any link with any terrorist organisation.If Isa does not travel to India, the WUC vice-president Omer Kanat and president of Uyghur American Association Ilshat Hassan will attend the conference in Dharamshala.

“This is the first time a delegation of World Uyghur Congress is visiting India. We are aware of New Delhi’s positive attitude towards the struggle for Tibet. India has been hosting Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetan refugees since 1959,” Isa said on Wednesday.

“We hope India, which is the largest democracy of the world, will also speak up in support of Uyghurs’ non-violent struggle for political and religious freedom, democracy and human rights.”

The conference – titled “Strengthening Our Alliance to Advance the Peoples’ Dream: Freedom, Justice, Equality and Peace” – is being organised by a US-based organisation Citizen Power for China (CFC), which is led by well-known exiled Chinese dissident and a 1989 Tiananmen Square activist, Yang Jianli. The participants will include China’s pro-democracy activists, representatives of the communist country’s ethnic and religious minorities like Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongolians, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, Muslims and Buddhists as well as delegates from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

The CFC, which earlier held similar conferences in Boston, California, Taipei and Washington, stated that the annual conclaves turned into “the single most important united forum for planning and pursuing a peaceful transition to democracy in China”.

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