China Pins Violence On Uighur Activist In D.C.
by Frank Langfitt
Stephen J. Boitano
Rebiya Kadeer (center) speaks at a Uighur protest at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. AP
Morning Edition, July 9, 2009 · When violence erupted in western China on Sunday, the Chinese government blamed someone who wasn't even there.
As an anchor on state-controlled China Central Television put it: "Initial investigations show the violence was masterminded by the separatist World Uighur Congress, led by Rebiya Kadeer."
Before Beijing branded Kadeer a public enemy, she was a business tycoon in western China. After criticizing the government's treatment of the ethnic Uighur minority, Kadeer spent more than five years in prison.
Beijing released Kadeer from prison early, in 2005. At 62, the diminutive mother of 11 shows no sign of letting up. In recent days, Kadeer has been in constant media interviews, advocating for the rights of Uighurs — just as she used to back home in China.
Kadeer now operates out of a tiny office in Washington, D.C., just across from the White House. With a handful of staff, she says she fights for the freedom of her fellow Uighurs — thousands of miles away in China's sprawling northwest.
Kadeer says the Chinese government is flooding her homeland with ethnic Han Chinese, who are taking the best jobs and overwhelming Uighur culture.
"This is the Chinese intention— to destroy Uighur culture," she says. "And in addition to destroying the Uighur culture, they are now killing Uighurs."