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Daughter of barred Uighur activist blasts China

Originally published by Yahoo, 19 July 2010

TAIPEI, Taiwan – The daughter of Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer _ whom China has labeled a terrorist for allegedly inciting ethnic violence in its far west _ said Beijing’s heavy-handed rule has fueled tensions in the troubled region.

Raela Tosh arrived in Taiwan on Sunday to promote a documentary about her mother, a prominent business woman who has been active in championing the rights of her Chinese minority Muslim group since the late 1990s. Chinese authorities imprisoned Kadeer for her activities and exiled her to the United States in 2005.

Ten months ago, Taiwan banned Kadeer from visiting the island for three years, part of efforts to avoid angering its giant neighbor.

Kadeer has denied inciting ethnic violence one year ago in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, where tensions between the Uighur and the Han majority have been steadily rising. According to China’s official count, nearly 200 died last July, but activists say the real toll was much higher.

Speaking to reporters Sunday, Tosh said the Chinese government’s response helped fuel ethnic tensions. She said the government cut off Internet and phone access _ which was only restored six months later _ and kept secret the true number of deaths and arrests.

Tosh said the Uighurs and the Han wanted to live side by side without problems, but “the Chinese government is not letting anyone live in that region peacefully and quietly.”

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing continues to claim the island as part of its territory. Since President Ma Ying-jeou came in power in May 2008, he has turned a corner on his predecessor’s anti-China, pro-independence approach and moved to improve ties with Beijing.