After China’s Masood Azhar snub, rebel Uyghur leader gets Indian visa

Dolkun Isa

In retaliation to China’s move to block the listing of Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar as an international terrorist at the UN, India has issued a visa to a Uyghur leader Dolkun Isa to visit Dharamsala for a conference in the last week of April. This is likely to intensify a diplomatic row between New Delhi and Beijing over the next few days.

A leader of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), Mr Isa has been invited to attend the conference being organised by the US-based organisation Citizen Power for China. Many Uyghurs and other Chinese dissidents in exile are expected to attend and discuss democratic transformation in China during the conference.

Responding to India’s decision, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “What I want to point out is that Dolkun is a terrorist on red notice of the Interpol and Chinese police. Bringing him to justice is due obligation of relevant countries.” A visa was also issued recently to Baloch nationalist leader Naela Qadri Baloch, who lives in self-exile in Canada. Baloch leaders in exile are viewed as secessionists in Pakistan. They have also been accused of perpetrating terror on Pakistan soil.

China has also blamed WUC for growing violence in Xinjiang. One of the most notable incidents took place in 2009, when mass riots claimed 197 lives. The WUC has rejected the charges saying it is working to highlight the plight of Uyghur minorities and the human rights violations they suffer. The April 28 conference in Dharamsala is expected to be attended by the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama. The event is being organised by a pro-democracy group. The group’s president Yang Jianli, was among the student protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

In an official response to China’s statement, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said: “We have seen media reports and the ministry is trying to ascertain facts.”


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