Thursday, December 14, 2006

Visiting Activist Says Canada Should Take Lead on Chinese Human Rights

Visiting Activist Says Canada Should Take Lead on Chinese Human Rights

By Cindy Chan
Epoch Times Ottawa Staff
Dec 13, 2006

Rebiya Kadeer has been likened to the Dalai Lama. The prominent Uighur (pronounced wee-gur) activist was short-listed for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. On Tuesday she testified before a Canadian parliamentary committee in Ottawa urging Canada to make the human rights of the Uighur people and the release of Uighur-Canadian Huseyin Celil "top priority" in relations with the Chinese.

Ms. Kadeer is a native of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China, called East Turkistan before the Chinese occupation in 1949. Uighurs then became "second-class citizens," facing extreme prejudice and repression similar to the plight of the Tibetan people, Kadeer said through an interpreter.

Kadeer rose to become an unlikely senior government advisor and successful businesswoman in China. It was giving help and leadership to her own people, she said, that led to her downfall and to "trumped-up" charges. She spent five years in prison before being released in 2005, due to strong international pressure. She was allowed to go to the U.S. A high-profile opponent of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Kadeer has since travelled extensively to raise awareness of human rights violations against the Uighurs by the Chinese regime.

Celil had fled China in the mid-1990s. He was arrested in Uzbekistan while visiting relatives in March. Accused by the Chinese communist regime of terrorist activities, he was extradited there in June and has reportedly been sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment.

Kadeer Addresses Human Rights Subcommittee

Speaking before the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights, Kadeer asked Members of Parliament to draft a letter to Chinese leader Hu Jintao to demand Celil's "immediate and unconditional release." She relayed that a letter to Hu signed by 72 members of the U.S. Congress helped gain the release of two of her children from imprisonment in China.

Amnesty International reports that state retaliation against family members appears to be a pattern developing in China to pressure human rights defenders. Another example is human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, arrested in August and charged with "inciting subversion." Police have continued to subject his 13-year-old daughter to constant monitoring and verbal abuse, and Gao's wife was beaten by police last month. Gao was reportedly sentenced in secret, recently.

Kadeer outlined several additional recommendations to Canada. These include helping broker discussions between the Chinese regime and the World Uighur Congress, expanding CIDA HIV/AIDS projects in East Turkistan, sending a fact-finding mission there, providing funding to the Uighur Canadian Association (UCA), and ensuring the release of her sons still in Chinese prison.

Kadeer also commended Prime Minister Stephen Harper for putting human rights ahead of trade in his meeting last month with Hu at the APEC summit in Vietnam.

UCA president Mehmet Tohti, accompanying Kadeer at the hearing, described the Canada-China bilateral human rights dialogue as a "waste of time, money, and resources." Canada is acting too softly and lacks understanding of China's "tricky diplomatic policy," he said.

He explained that until 1997 Canada had sponsored a UN resolution annually to criticize the Chinese regime's human rights record. The regime persuaded Canada to replace it with a bilateral dialogue, and the dialogue soon became closed-door. China next convinced Canada to provide CIDA funding to improve the Chinese judiciary and related institutions. Meanwhile, China has money to spend to strengthen its military, he added.

Tohti said the dialogue should have accountability and a clear strategy that includes steps, timeframes, implementation, and follow-up.

Human Rights in China Depend Upon International Community

Following the hearing, Kadeer said "Canada is a powerful, democratic country" and that "if Canada takes the lead, other countries will follow."

She asked the rights activists' relatives who are suffering to have hope. "With the help of the international community, with their own patience and endurance, the human rights cause will be victorious in China."

"The Chinese government is not only facing international pressure, but internal pressure as well," she remarked. She likened China's situation to a cup that is overflowing. The Chinese communist regime's human rights violations are "overwhelming, overflowing, and so evil, and the people's anger is also overflowing."

Kadeer told the Epoch Times she is aware of the peaceful movement in China to withdraw from the CCP, prompted by the Epoch Times editorial series Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. Over 16 million have quit the party and its affiliated organizations to date.

"If such trends continue, that's going to be wonderful," she said.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Press China to free Canadian, MPs urged


OTTAWA -- Canadian MPs should start a letter campaign to pressure China into freeing a Canadian citizen jailed there since June, says a human-rights activist who is working for his release.

Rabiya Kadeer, president of the World Uyghur Congress, said yesterday a petition signed by 72 members of the U.S. Congress was successful in urging the release of her two children from a Chinese jail in October.

A similar strategy could help reunite Huseyin Celil with his family in Hamilton, Ms. Kadeer told a parliamentary subcommittee.

"Demanding the Chinese government to release him immediately and unconditionally is critical," said Ms. Kadeer, speaking through a translator.

"Otherwise, the Chinese can do anything to him in prison, even torture him to death," she continued.

The head of the subcommittee, Conservative MP Jason Kenney, said he would study her recommendation.

During her address, Ms. Kadeer portrayed Mr. Celil's ordeal as part of a continuing campaign by Chinese authorities to crush the bid for self-determination of the Uyghur people, China's Muslim minority group.

Mr. Celil fled China in the 1990s, after he was sentenced to death in absentia for founding a separatist political party and other alleged subversive political activity.

He settled in Canada, and became known as an imam at a Hamilton mosque.

He was arrested while visiting relatives in Uzbekistan this spring and handed over in June to Chinese authorities, who have since refused him access to consular services.

Nothing short of full-out international pressure will secure his release, Ms. Kadeer said, praising the Conservative government's hard-line stand on China's human-rights record.

Ms. Kadeer's comments were echoed by Mohamed Tohti, president of the Uyghur Canadian Association.

He told the subcommittee that Canada ought to reform a yearly human-rights dialogue with China.

The meeting between senior bureaucrats on both sides is a "waste of time," because recommendations from Canadian officials are largely ignored by their Chinese counterparts, Mr. Tohti told the committee.

"The Chinese foreign policy is based upon one theory: Cut out the head of the sheep and sell out the meat of the dog," he went on to add.

Mr. Tohti accused the Chinese government of duplicity and deceit.

So far, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has shown no sign of wanting to carry through with the yearly event.