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SEEMA MUSTAFA | 24 APRIL, 2016

"I Am Not Masood Azhar" Says Chinese Dissident Isa As India Comes Under Chinese Pressure


NEW DELHI: “I am not ..what is his name...Azhar...i am so upset (about this comparison) as mine is a completely different case,” said Chinese dissident Dolkun Isa in an exclusive interview with The Citizen from Munich.

Isa said that though he has been issued a visa by India for the meeting being organised by Chinese dissidents---and expected to be attended by delegates from different parts of the world---”this has come under a question mark now.” He said he will be taking a final decision on Monday, but admitted that India seemed to be succumbing to Chinese pressure on this issue that made his possible visit now, uncertain. He did hint later on in the interview that this was probably off the cards altogether as India was now not in a position to “guarantee” his security.

“India is a democratic country, it should have some responsibility to Asia, it should stand up against pressure, even pressure from China. India has the responsibility to speak out against human rights, I think India should not listen to China,” Isa said.

Isa has been designated a “terrorist” by China that has Red Notice by Interpol out against him. His visit to India is possible if New Delhi is able to ensure that he is not arrested, and now that Beijing has taken a strong position against this meeting, clearly the government here is backing off from its initial attempts at a ‘tit for tat’ policy.

Isa was well aware of New Delhi’s interest in him being linked to its anger with China for blocking the proposal to declare Jaish e Mohammad chief Masood Azhar a terrorist and bring him under sanctions in the United Nations. China exercised what India described as a “hidden veto” to block this, maintaining that New Delhi needed to bring in more evidence to justify the proposal. China of course has denied using a veto of any sorts maintaining that it has just placed the proposal under a “technical hold.”

Asked about this Isa immediately said that this comparison, in any manner, was so unfortunate. “I am not a terrorist, I do not believe in violence, my struggle for democracy and rights for Uyghurs in China has been entirely non-violent, I am not a militant,” he said rather passionately. “It is so sad and of course it is very unfair,” he added.

New Delhi had come up with the bright idea of facilitating Isa’s visit to India for the political meeting of Chinese dissidents, as a tit for tat against Beijings position on Azhar. Isa, who feels clearly that he is a pawn in the middle of this diplomacy, is particularly unhappy about the comparison being drawn, as a result, between him and the JeM chief who has mentored terrorist attacks and taken responsibility for the same. Isa , as he points out, has been carrying out political campaign against the human rights violations, enforced disappearances as he put it, of the Uyghur community, and has never been a practitioner of violence, “in fact I believe in a peaceful campaign.”

“I though India is a democratic country, not like China. That it cares about human rights violations, that it has a free media. I have not got a guarantee from India till now but clearly there is big pressure from China,”Isa said. “There is a question mark on my visit now,” he added, “the pressure from China has made it all very complicated.”

Isa said that he had received the Indian visa early April, clearly after the Azhar controversy had both India and China at loggerheads in the UN. Recently Ministers Sushma Swaraj, Manohar Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval all took up the Masood Azhar issue at their levels with the Chinese, but to an avail. Beijing has refused to budge, and instead made clear its strong disapproval of the proposed meeting of Chinese dissidents and the invitation issued to its “terrorist” Isa,

The dissidents meet was finalised about two months ago. It is being organised under the aegis of a US based Citizen Power for China under the title “Strengthening Our Alliance to Advance the Peoples’ Dream: Freedom, Justice, Equality and Peace”. This is the first time that the World Uyghur Congress is being invited for a meeting in Delhi. Isa is the founder of this organisation although for China he remains a terrorist and the “vice-president of separatist East Turkestan Liberation Organisation”.

Interestingly, Isa said that he had led a students movement in the mid 1980’s and been thrown out of the University. He made his way to Munich where he got asylum later and has been there since. He says that the real pressure on Uyghurs came after 9/11 when China’s policy turned into a harsh crackdown. Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group found mainly in Xinjiang in China, but also in other parts of the world as in Central Asia and Turkey. It has a long history and distinct culture.

Isa says that very few know what has happened to his community within China. “The Chinese are very unhappy with me, because I speak out, I am very active, I have been holding meetings, attending world conferences and have been successful in raising public opinion. That is why they call me a terrorist,” he said. He said that the Chinese had put pressure on the US and on Japan earlier for not allowing him to attend conferences there, but in both cases they could not succeed.

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