Rebiya Kadeer and India

*Note* After the writing of the piece, a Uyghur human rights organisation released a statement insisting that no visa application was made. I suspect, however, that feelers were sent out about a visit to India (and possibly even a meeting with the Dalai Lama) and that they were nipped in the bud before a formal visa application could be made. In either case, the argument of the piece still holds; India is tacking a much closer course to China for reasons that may be sufficient for some, but disappointing for those who feel that there’s scope in India’s foreign policy to better articulate its ideals.

Last weekend, it was reported that India had denied a visa to Rebiya Kadeer, the ostensible leader in exile of China’s minority Uighur community, who China accuses of masterminding recent unrest in its western province of Xinjiang. Many Indian strategists applauded the decision – only for the Uighur Human Rights Project to later deny the reports. New Delhi, the strategists argued, had little to gain from riling Beijing and even less to gain from adding to Kadeer’s travel itinerary, a global junket aimed at building sympathy for the plight of the Uighurs. The Turkic, predominantly Muslim Uighurs made headlines this summer after riots and state repression shook Xinjiang. India’s interests, some say, would be best served by staying out of the mess altogether.

After all, a visit from Kadeer would, it seems, only cause grief for her would-be hosts. Her impending attendance at the Melbourne International Film Festival in Australia prompted Chinese directors to withdraw their films and Chinese hackers to attack the festival’s website. In a furious diplomatic spat, Beijing slammed Japan’s decision to grant her a visa. And Chinese officials threatened Ankara over the Turkish prime minister’s promise to allow Kadeer into Turkey.

This certainly isn’t the first (nor will it be the last) time a state has put pressure on other countries to curtail the movement of controversial individuals. But what we should find distressing is the extent to which countries have allowed their own affairs to be dictated by China’s propaganda campaign. Kadeer is supported by American money, but she is not a “terrorist” (as China insists on dubbing her and her allies), nor is she capable of orchestrating the unrest in Xinjiang (as China claims she did). Instead, China has turned this woman – who I had the pleasure of meeting briefly when she visited openDemocracy’s offices a few years ago – into a straw-man, directing domestic outrage against her while distracting attention from the real anger, real frustration and real grievances of the Uighurs.

Read the rest of the piece on the Guardian.

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3 thoughts on “Rebiya Kadeer and India

  1. maybe kadeer is not responsible for the unrest in Xinjiang as you claimed in the last paragraph of your article….however she is a person who is condemned by China and china is putting pressure on other countries to stop her mobilization around the world. If India denies her the visa then there is no harm as India is under peace talks with China and the two countries are quite important for the world economy and so is their relation. If by allowing a person in our country it can spoil our relationship with china then it is better to remain out of it.

  2. read your take on the chinese outrageous ways to curb the uighur community revolt…..
    I think you have hit on the right note by pinning down the facts as to how chinese govt. want the other countries to stop any interaction whatsoever with the exiled leader..
    This is certainly not the first and the last time that they are rifting such actions , even in the past they tried using uncanny means to supress their rivals (read DALAILAMA and the Tibet movement) and several others , and even in the near future they wouldn’t mend their ways for any good.
    I think it is the responsibility of the big nations to support the right stand , even it means making an exception to the
    chinese objection……………………….

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