LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Blame the Uighurs Don't Deserve
Monday, August 3, 2009
As co-chair of the House's Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, I am troubled by the premise of the July 25 news story "China, Uighur Groups Give Conflicting Riot Accounts."
I agree that we have yet to receive a full, credible and objective account of China's recent crackdown against the Uighur people of Xinjiang province and the events that led to it. Post reporters chose, however, to blame, in equal proportion, both Uighur human rights leader Rebiya Kadeer and Chinese authorities for waging "an emotional global propaganda war with geopolitical implications" with gaps in both sides' accounts.
I can only imagine how offensive such a comparison must sound to Ms. Kadeer, who spent almost six years in a Chinese jail for trying to share human rights information with a visiting congressional delegation.
When staff members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee traveled to Xinjiang as part of a fact-finding mission in 2006, Ms. Kadeer's family members were detained and beaten by Chinese police, even though no one was going to meet with them. Two of Ms. Kadeer's sons, Alim and Ablikim Abdureyim, have been imprisoned ever since.
These are the facts of life for Uighur human rights defenders, but they did not gain a mention in the article. Both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission recently held hearings on the reality of Uighur rights in Xinjiang, testimony that could have easily been mentioned by your reporters
Regrettably, readers were left with the impression that China has allowed "unusual freedom to conduct interviews" and access to the area where clashes occurred. If China was so gracious as to grant access, why would it reject an impartial investigation by the relevant U.N. human rights agencies, which can genuinely investigate the circumstances of the violence and the legality of the subsequent mass arrests and detentions? If there are "gaps" in the story, they are in your reporting.
JAMES P. McGOVERN
U.S. Representative (D-Mass.)