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China warns all countries not to promote Uighur leader

Paramilitary forces scale back in China's Urumqi
Paramilitary forces withdrew from most of their positions in the Uighur district of Xinjiang's capital Urumqi on Thursday for the first time since unrest that left at least 192 people dead. A command centre in front of Urumqi's Grand Bazaar was dismantled, shopkeepers said, allowing stores to open for the first time since July 5, when the city experienced the worst ethnic violence in China in decades. "It is calmer and safer now the soldiers have moved away," one Uighur shopkeeper in the bazaar said on condition of anonymity. He said had his shop had to stay closed longer, most of his stock would have spoiled. However, paramilitary forces did not leave the district completely, maintaining barricades to prevent vehicles from entering some roads, an AFP reporter witnessed. These included positions near where the government said police shot and killed two knife-wielding Uighur "lawbreakers" and wounded another on Monday. For the most part, the green camouflage uniforms that were evident on most corners of the district made way for the light blue worn by unarmed city police officers. The district's sidewalks bustled Thursday evening as loudspeakers broadcasting government messages against Uighur separatists had to compete with stall owners using megaphones to peddle polo shirts. At Urumqi's People's Square, the scene of a Uighur protest that officials said turned violent, black-clad police had removed their helmets but were still preventing people from going into the square. Most of those killed in the unrest were Han, China's dominant ethnic group, while more than 1,600 were injured, officials said. Thousands of Han Chinese retaliated in the following days, arming themselves with makeshift weapons and marching through parts of Urumqi vowing vengeance against the Uighurs. The Uighurs, many of whom have complained of repression under China's 60-year rule in the huge mountainous region, have accused Chinese forces of opening fire on peaceful protests. They say the number of people killed is far higher than the official tally and that there were also attacks on Uighurs in other parts of Xinjiang. The Chinese Communist Party's official mouthpiece, the People's Daily, published a commentary on Thursday saying more evidence was emerging to show the July 5 violence "was a serious criminal incident intentionally organised by hostile forces". Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 16, 2009
China said Thursday it opposed any foreign platform for Rebiya Kadeer, after an Australian film festival accused Beijing of trying to stop a showing of a documentary about the leading Uighur activist.

"What kind of person Rabiya Kadeer is, we are all very clear," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.

"We oppose any foreign countries providing her with a platform to engage in anti-China separatist activities."

Qin did not confirm if Chinese diplomats had pressured organisers not to show the film about the US-based head of the World Uighur Congress at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Festival director Richard Moore said an official from the Chinese consulate called him last Friday and urged him to withdraw the documentary "Ten Conditions of Love" by Melbourne film-maker Jeff Daniels.

Moore said the consulate official argued the festival should not screen the film because Kadeer was a criminal and also called for organisers to cancel a promotional visit by the activist scheduled for next month.

"She actually said, 'I'm urging you to withdraw this film from the festival'," Moore told ABC radio.

Moore said he told the official he did not have to justify the film's inclusion "then politely hung up".

Violence that erupted in Xinjiang on July 5 left at least 192 people dead and more than 1,600 injured, according to Chinese authorities. China accuses Kadeer of fomenting the unrest.

The unrest saw members of China's Muslim Uighur minority, who have long said they live under repressive Beijing rule, attack members of the nation's dominant Han group.

Kadeer, who spent six years in a Chinese prison before she was released in 2005 under US pressure, has denied the accusations she organised the unrest.

Canberra is in the midst of a diplomatic row with Beijing over the fate of Stern Hu, a top Rio Tinto executive arrested in Shanghai and accused of bribery and espionage during troubled negotiations over iron ore contracts.

earlier related report

Chinese activist and daughter sentenced to labour camp: relative
A Chinese environmental activist and his daughter have been sentenced to re-education through labour without a trial on charges of passing state secrets abroad, his wife said Thursday.

Sun Xiaodi, 55, a former uranium mine worker in the northwest province of Gansu who has campaigned against alleged environmental degradation since 1988, was sentenced to two years labour re-education, Hu Jianhong told AFP.

Their daughter, Sun Haiyan, 25, was given the same punishment for 18 months, Hu said over the phone, crying as she expressed deep concern for her only child, whom she has not been able to see for over a month.

"For more than 20 years, they have continuously persecuted us, harassed us, and now, they have taken it out on my daughter," Hu said.

Hu was notified of the sentences Thursday morning. Hu said her daughter was accused of helping her father pass on information about his former mine to organisations abroad, a claim she said was untrue.

Her husband was accused of giving interviews about the uranium mine and its alleged pollution in June 2004, and of having continued to obtain information since then, the notice of the punishments said, according to Hu.

"Instead of arresting my husband and my daughter, who are simple and innocent people, they would be better off arresting real criminals," Hu said.

According to the Chinese Human Rights Defenders group, Sun had been working to expose illegal activities at the Number 792 uranium mine in Diebu county in the south of Gansu for more than 20 years.

The rights group said he had documented cases of hazardous working conditions, increased rates of cancer among people living near the mines, and improper disposal of radioactive waste and equipment.

Hu's husband and daughter were detained on June 16. Sun Haiyan was taken from Beijing, where her parents had sent her to live with friends in an effort to keep her away from persecution.

"As she grew up, she really suffered because of us -- we had no money, she was not able to go to university. In Beijing, she was unable to find a job as she didn't have a diploma," said Hu.

Police in Diebu county, where Sun Xiaodi is being held, and the government in Gannan prefecture, were not immediately available for comment when contacted by AFP.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said he was not aware of the case.

Police, rather than the judicial system, deliver re-education through labour sentences without trials.

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China accused of trying to stop Uighur film in Australia
Melbourne (AFP) July 15, 2009
China has tried to stop Melbourne's International Film Festival from showing a documentary about a Uighur activist accused by Beijing of orchestrating unrest, organisers said on Wednesday. The allegation comes amid China's efforts to contain violence involving its Uighur minority in the region of Xinjiang and tension between Beijing and Canberra over the arrest of a mining executive accused ... read more

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