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ICC NOTE: It seems China continues to have strong influence in Taiwan even though Taiwan is a democratically sovereign nation. legal activist Chen Guangcheng and a prominent Uyghur activist were both denied visas to visit Taiwan for the Asian-Pacific religious freedom forum. Dolkum Isa would have been the most difficult as he is a Chinese citizen from the Xinjiang region which is the location of China’s Uyghur Muslim population. Chen Guangcheng should not have had difficulty entering Taiwan as he has been living in the United States since 2012. Regardless of their ability to enter the country, their struggle to attend is yet another sign of China’s attempt to silence religion and hide the truth of their atrocious human rights record and persecution of religious minorities including Christianity and ethnic Uyghurs. 

2/19/2016 Taiwan (Radio Free Asia) – Some notable civil rights activists, known to be a thorn in side of the People’s Republic of China. blamed Beijing’s influence for visa troubles that kept them out of Taiwan for an international conference on religious freedom this week.

Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, who has worked on human rights issues in rural areas of China, and Uyghur activist Dolkun Isa will both miss the first Asia-Pacific Religious Freedom Forum because they couldn’t legally enter Taiwan.

Chen Guangcheng, who now lives in the U.S., said he was invited by the forum’s organizers, but did not get a visa from Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy over which authoritarian Beijing claims sovereignty.

“If we don’t put the universal value of human rights in the right position, but continue to ignore it, we will spoil the dictators so they will not abide the law,” he told RFA’s Cantonese service.

Rebiya Kadeer, president of World Uyghur Congress, told RFA’s Uyghur Service that Beijing wanted to keep the Taiwanese in the dark about the treatment of her people.

“China did not want its sever  human rights religious abuses against people of East Turkestan,and the reality of how they are suppressing the Uyghur people with all kinds of reasons to be publicized in Taiwan so they pushed Taiwanese government not to give us visa,” she said. Kadeer currently lives in the U.S.

“It would have been a great opportunity for me to meet Taiwanese people, and the Asia-Pacific Religious Freedom Forum would have been grate stage for me to show the reality of Uyghurs right at moment, such as how Uyghurs are migrating to other countries because of the religious repressions against them,” she added, using the Uyghur’s preferred name for their region, which China calls Xinjiang

In a statement to the forum, World Uyghur Congress Executive Secretary Dolkun Isa said he was “disheartened when I learned that my inability to take part in the forum was likely because of pressure from the Chinese government on the Taiwanese.”

The forum is jointly hosted by several groups in the U.S. and Taiwan and is chaired by former Republic of China Vice President Annette Lu. The ROC is Taiwan’s official name.

“I believe that any discussion taking place around religious freedom must focus some attention on the treatment of Muslims in China, Uyghurs living in East Turkestan in particular, as the issue is too often overlooked,” Isa said.

While the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) decisively defeated the pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) in January, the DPP won’t assume power until May 20.

When Isa visited Taiwan 10 years ago to take part in an event held by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for the protection and promotion of the human and cultural rights of indigenous people and minorities, he said he encountered no obstacles. The DPP was in power at the time.

The Uyghurs are a mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority group that lives in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region where it has complained about pervasive ethnic discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression by Beijing.

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