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
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.