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Greens invite China's 'terrorist' to visit

Date: Monday, 05-October-2009
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Greens invite China's 'terrorist' to visit Oct 05, 2009 By Lincoln Tan Exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, who China says is a terrorist, will be in New Zealand next week after an invitation from the Green Party. Ms Kadeer will be holding two public meetings in Auckland and Wellington during her four-day visit, which is likely to infuriate the Chinese Government, which also strongly protested against her visit to Melbourne in August. "Rebiya Kadeer's visit will allow New Zealanders to learn about the plight of the Uighur people, which was brought to light because of recent events," said Green MP Keith Locke, who will be her host in New Zealand. Ms Kadeer has applied for a visa from Washington for her New Zealand tour, but although she has not yet received a reply from immigration, Mr Locke says he did not see any problems with her being granted one. The Chinese government says Ms Kadeer is a criminal who masterminded ethnic violence in her home region of Xinjiang in northwest China in July, which left nearly 200 dead, and tried to stop her visit to Australia. Ms Kadeer, who has lived in exile in Washington in the US since being freed from a Chinese prison in 2005, denies orchestrating the July violence. Foreign Ministry officials in Beijing have said they oppose countries providing Ms Kadeer with a platform to engage in anti-China separatist activities, and also objected to Maori Television's screening of a documentary last month about Kadeer, entitled Ten Conditions of Love. Taiwan last week banned Ms Kadeer from visiting the island, saying her World Uighur Congress, which she heads, has close links to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a group listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States - a charge which she flatly rejected. Mr Locke says China's efforts to stop exiled dissidents from speaking overseas should be condemned. People had the right to hear different sides of the story. "It is wrong to allow the Chinese, or any government, to tell us who we can or cannot let speak in our country," he said. "We are hoping it will have learned from its failed attempt to stop Maori TV from screening the Kadeer documentary, and respect the sovereign right of New Zealand to invite who we want." Ms Kadeer's August visit to Australia soured Australia-China ties and put at risk a two-way trade worth US$61.5 billion ($85.9 billion), but Mr Locke says he has not yet told Prime Minister John Key, or anyone in the Government about the visit. Australia revealed last month that China cancelled a senior minister's visit because of Canberra's decision to grant a visa to Ms Kadeer, and former Prime Minister John Howard also linked a failed mining deal to the recent strains of the Kadeer visit. The secretary-general of the United Chinese Associations of New Zealand, Jim He, says he is disappointed at the Green Party's decision to invite Ms Kadeer, but did not think her visit here would create as much controversy. "Emotions were running high when she visited Australia soon after the Xinjiang riots, but ... the issues are not new any more," he said. Mr He said he would "definitely not" be attending any of Ms Kadeer's public meetings. * Rebiya Kadeer public meetings Tuesday Oct 13, 7.30pm: Room ENG 1401, Engineering Building, University of Auckland, Symonds St, Auckland. Wednesday Oct 14, 7.30pm: St John's in the City Hall, Willis St, Wellington.                

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