Isa Un­known in In­dia Till They Can­celled His Visa

La­belled a ter­ror­ist, Uyghur leader has been a thorn in China’s flesh since stu­dent days

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

New Delhi: Un­til last week, Dolkun Isa was a name al­most un­heard of in In­dia. That was when the Modi govern­ment de­cided to grant him a visa to travel to Dharam­sala to at­tend a meet of Chi­nese dis­si­dents. The chair­manof the­ex­ec­u­tivecom­mit­tee of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), how­ever, is bet­ter known in pro-democ­racy cir­cles in Amer­ica and Western Europe as one fight­ing forthe­causeof na­tivesof China’srestive Xin­jiang re­gion.

Not­with­stand­ing China’s al­le­ga­tions that his ac­tiv­i­ties amounted to ter­ror­ism, Isa has been wel­comed at sev­er­al­hu­man-right­sand­pro-democ­racy con­fer­ences across North Amer­ica and Western Europe. Isa fled to Europe in 1997, af­ter en­dur­ing per­se­cu­tion of the Chi­nese govern­ment. He be­came a ci­ti­zen of Ger­many in 2006 and is based in Ber­lin. Along with WUC pres­i­dent Re­biya Kadeer, Isa has been rais­ing Bei­jing’s hack­les in re­cent years. Last month when Isa re­ceived an award by the ‘Vic­tims of Com­mu­nist Me­mo­rial Foun­da­tion’ in Wash­ing­ton DC, a Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman em­pha­sised that Isa was a wanted man in China for crimes, in­clud­ing mur­der. China claims Isa is the vice-chair­man of the East Turkestan Lib­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion, which he de­nies. Its is­suance of a red-cor­ner no­tice to In­ter­pol was based on this claim but none of the Western Euro­pean na­tions have taken no­tice of it. He has been on a Chi­nese list of wanted ter­ror­ists since 2003.

Con­trary to China’s claims, Isa has pub­licly con­demned all ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­tiesand­has­been­ac­tivein­both­the UNandtheEU.Is­abegan­his­ac­tivism as a stu­dent at Xin­jiang Univer­sity in Urumqi, cap­i­tal of the prov­ince. He protested China’s nu­clear test in the 1960s and in 1987 he and his friends formed the Stu­dent As­so­ci­a­tion for Sci­ence Cul­ture to en­gage Uyghur stu­dents in outreach pro­grammes acrossEastTurkestan.He­was­placed un­der house ar­rest, in 1988, for his role in or­gan­is­ing a protest for equal rights to stu­dents and was sub­se­quently ex­pelled from the univer­sity. The Uyghur has of­ten found com­mon cause with dis­si­dents in China, in­clud­ing Ti­betans.

Not­with­stand­ing can­celling of his visa, Isa hopes that In­dia has a les­son or two for its big­gest neigh­bour. “...It is im­per­a­tive upon In­dia to give China lessons in democ­racy… I am hope­ful that pos­i­tive steps may be taken to main­tain In­dia’s re­la­tion­ship with Uyghurs,” he told ET.

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