Silence an ominous sign for Uighur activist

Originally published by Financial Times, 17 February 2010

When someone rings Ilham Tohti’s doorbell these days, he gets nervous.

It has been more than a month since state security agents last got in touch, and Mr Tohti, an economics professor at Minzu University in Beijing and prominent representative of China’s Uighur minority, doesn’t quite know what to make of that silence.

As an advocate of equal treatment for his people and a critic of failed government policy in Xinjiang, the Uighur homeland that forms China’s northwest frontier, the professor has been under constant watch for years.

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Sticky Uighur decision plays into tricky U.S. constitutional battle

Originally published by World Radio Switzerland, 17 February 2010

Switzerland’s decision to allow the transfer of two brothers being held at Guantanamo Bay may help the Obama administration to avoid a landmark Supreme Court case. Arkin Mahmud and Bahtiyar Mahnut are Uighur Muslims from China and their cases are at the center of a tricky constitutional battle in Washington.

The argument is over the government’s power to hold inmates indefinitely—a precedent set during the Bush administration. The Swiss decision now means that all the detainees in the Supreme Court case have been cleared for release in another country. From Washington, Daniel Ryntjes reports:

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China Hints at Trials for 20 Seeking Asylum

Originally published by The New York Times, 13 February 2010

BEIJING — The Chinese Foreign Ministry has indicated that 20 Uighur asylum seekers who were deported from Cambodia to China in December are being or have been put on trial for what China considers criminal activities.

“China is a country ruled by law,” Ma Zhaoxu, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a written statement to The New York Times. “The judicial authorities deal with illegal criminal issues strictly according to law.”

Mr. Ma’s statement came last week in a brief reply to a list of detailed questions The Times sent to the Foreign Ministry inquiring about the fate of the Uighurs.

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Pro-independence group again invites Kadeer to visit

Originally published by Radio Taiwan International, 12 February 2010

A pro-Taiwan independence group said Friday it has again invited Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer to visit Taiwan. That’s after a previous trip was prevented by the government over concerns it would provoke China.

Head of the organization Guts United Taiwan, Freddy Lim, extended the invitation when he met Kadeer in Washington on Wednesday.

The group said in a statement that Kadeer wished very much to visit Taiwan for DVD release of the Chinese version of her biopic, The Ten Conditions of Love. The DVD is scheduled to be released in Taiwan in March.

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China government’s undesired websites unveiled

Originally published by E-Taiwan News, 12 February 2010

Google’s row with China over Internet freedom has aroused an universal concern for its controversial mechanism of information censorship. Many cannot help but wonder what is China’s rationale underlying Internet censorship? And what kind of websites are forbidden?

Recently, Phoenix Weekly stationed in Beijing published a “confidential blacklist,” revealing a series of unwelcome websites – KMT is surprisingly included in the list.

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Door open to remaining Uighurs, says Palau

Originally published by Australia Network News, 11 February 2010

Palau President Johnson Toribiong says he is standing by his offer to temporarily resettle five Uighurs still being held in America’s Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

The men are the last of a group of 22 captured in Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001.

Last year six of the detainees were moved to Palau – prompting suggestions that it was in return for financial aid from the United States.

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Trekking 1,000km in China for e-mail

Originally published by BBC, 11 February 2010

On the streets of the capital, Urumqi, people huddle around braziers to keep warm. The call to prayer rings out from the minaret of a mosque.

Every few minutes in the middle of Urumqi another security patrol passes. Chinese policemen in smart blue uniforms march in line, brandishing their guns.

Police vans drive by slowly with their blue and red warning lights flashing, officers in helmets and camouflage gear peering watchfully out.

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US ASEAN ambassador ends Cambodia trip, slams Uighur expulsions

Originally published by Monsters & Critics, 10 February 2010

Phnom Penh – A senior US envoy to South-East Asia wrapped up a brief visit to Cambodia Tuesday saying he had reiterated to Phnom  Penh that Washington remained ‘very disappointed’ with its December expulsion of 20 Uighur asylum-seekers to China.

The US still had no news on the fate of the Uighurs, said Scot Marciel, the US ambassador for ASEAN Affairs, in charge of relations with the 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

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