China irked after India issues visa to 'terrorist'

22 Apr 2016 | Written by Vijaya ; Edited by Gaurav
Beijing's ire over India's visa to Uyghur activists

India's move to grant visa to World Uyghur Congress (WUC) leader Dolkun Isa, has irked China.

"Dolkun Isa is a terrorist on red notice of Interpol and Chinese police. Bringing him to justice is a due obligation of relevant countries," said the Chinese foreign ministry.

India's decision is being viewed as a response to China's move to block India's UN motion against Masood Azhar.

In context: Beijing's ire over India's visa to Uyghur activists

Xinjiang A brief history of China's Xinjiang region

Xinjiang borders eight countries - Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

The region had intermittent autonomy and independence but came under Chinese rule in the 18th Century.

An East Turkestan state was briefly declared in 1949, but independence was short-lived - later that year Xinjiang officially became part of Communist China.

It is now an officially designated autonomous region, like Tibet.

Who are Uyghurs?

The Uyghurs are Muslims who regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. They majorly inhabit the Xinjiang autonomous region of the country, also known as East Turkestan.
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Repression China's repression in Xinjiang

Activists say central government policies have gradually curtailed the Uyghurs' religious, commercial and cultural activities.

Beijing is accused of intensifying a crackdown after street protests in Xinjiang in the 1990s, and again in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Over the past decade, many prominent Uyghurs have been imprisoned or have sought asylum abroad after being accused of terrorism.

Tensions Tensions in the Xinjiang region

The ethnic tensions caused by economic and cultural factors are thought to be the root cause of the recent violence in the Xinjiang region.

Major development projects that brought prosperity to Xinjiang's big cities, attracted young and technically qualified Han Chinese workers from eastern provinces.

This resulted in mass immigration of Han Chinese to Xinjiang, making Uyghurs a minority in the region.

WUC? What is the World Uyghur Congress?

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is an international organisation that represents the collective interest of the Uyghur people both in East Turkestan and abroad.

The WUC was established on 16 April 2004 in Munich, Germany.

The main objective of WUC is to promote the rights of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means to determine the political future of East Turkestan.

China's view on WUC and Uyghurs

China alleges that the WUC supports secessionist & terrorist movement in Xinjiang. Since the 9/11 attacks in the US, China has increasingly portrayed its Uyghur separatists as auxiliaries of al-Qaeda, saying they have received training in Afghanistan.
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21 Apr 2016India issues visa to Uyghur activists

India issued visas to four Chinese-Uyghur nationals who are members of World Uyghur Congress (WUC), to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Germany-based WUC leader Dolkun Isa, branded a 'terrorist' by China, was among them.

They along with several Chinese exiles and dissidents were invited to take part in a conference to be held from 28 April to 1 May, in Dharamsala.

Dolkun IsaWho is Dolkun Isa?

Dolkun Isa is a noted Uyghur activist who hails from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.

Isa began his activism as a student at Xinjiang University in Urumqi.

According to Isa, China's 'terrorist' label, issuance of a warrant for his arrest through Interpol, and the constant harassment in international fora are all strategies to discredit his work and other Uyghur activists.

22 Apr 2016China irked after India issues visa to 'terrorist'

25 Apr 2016India withdraws Uyghur dissident's visa after China's protest

India cancelled its visa to dissident Uyghur leader Dolkun Isa, after China protested against the move.

Sources in the Home Ministry said that the visa issued on April 16 was cancelled on April 23, after checks showed there was a red corner notice issued for him by Interpol.

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said "external affairs ministry is trying to ascertain the facts."

28 Apr 2016India cancels visas for 2 more Chinese protesters

After Isa, 2 more Chinese dissidents- Lu Jinghua and Ray Wong claimed that India had cancelled their visa at the last minute (apparently at the behest of China).

Lu Jinghua, known for her role in the 1989 Tiananmen square protests, is considered a criminal in China.

An angry Jinghua said that she became aware that her visa had been withdrawn on reaching the airport.

17 May 2016MEA, MHA spar over Uyghur visa issue

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar sent a letter to the Home Ministry saying that "any revocation in the future be done in consultation with this ministry."

The issue came to light after the MHA revoked the visas approved by the MEA to Uyghur dissidents.

The MHA said though the MEA issues visas, certain countries including China, Pakistan require MHA and intelligence vetting for visa approvals.