The Kaohsiung City Government yesterday went ahead with the first of two days of screenings of The 10 Conditions of Love, a documentary about exiled Uighur Muslim leader Rebiya Kadeer.
The city government decided on Saturday to show the film ahead of the Kaohsiung Film Festival, which starts on Oct. 16, after city tourism industry figures complained that the festival's plan to include the film had led to a series of hotel cancelations by Chinese tourists.
Kadeer is the president of the World Uighur Congress, which fights for the rights of the Uighur ethnic minority in China. She has been living in Washington since 2005, after China sent her into exile, and travels around the world to campaign for the Uighur cause.
PHOTO: SAM YEH, AFP
China portrays her as a separatist and accused her of plotting the July 5 riots in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, a charge Kadeer has denied.
A worker at the library where the hour-long documentary was shown said all 115 seats were sold out, adding that there was stronger interest in the film than expected.
“Some 20 people have been waiting patiently since early this afternoon even though they were already told that all the seats have been booked,” the employee said.
The city government said on Monday that today's screening would move to a bigger venue, FE21 Mall's Vieshow Cinema, because of increased demand.
Outside the venue, an independence group condemned Beijing, saying it had pressured Kaohsiung authorities to alter their screening plan.
“Say no to Chinese hegemony, safeguard human rights!” and “Taiwan, China — one country [on] each side!” the demonstrators chanted while displaying a Uighur independence flag.
Two groups yesterday announced they had invited Kadeer and her husband to visit Taiwan.
“The invitation was issued by the Taiwan Youth Anti-Communist Corps and the youth group Guts United Taiwan,” said Paul Lin (林保華), a political commentator and director-general of the corps. “We talked with Kadeer and her husband on the phone yesterday, and they happily accepted the invitation.”
Freddy Lim (林昶佐) of Guts United Taiwan flew to Washington yesterday to deliver the invitation to Kadeer, Lin said.
“We hope Kadeer and her husband can arrive in mid-October in time for the Kaohsiung Film Festival, but we don't know if President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will approve the visit,” Lin said.
Asked what would happen if Kadeer and her husband accepted the invitation, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said yesterday the government would respect the law.
“Everything will be handled according to the law,” Lai told reporters, adding that ties between Taipei and Beijing were moving in the direction of peace and stability.
She said the development of cross-strait relations would not be affected by the screenings or the civic groups' plan to invite Kadeer to Taiwan.
Lai said on the legislative floor that the government had almost completed negotiations with Beijing on a financial memorandum of understanding.
DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) also asked Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) if Kadeer would be issued a visa.
Wu replied that the government was still evaluating the case and would give its answer before the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus slammed the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) plan to screen the documentary around the country.
KMT caucus chief deputy secretary-general Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) told a press conference that the DPP's move was “provocative.”
“The DPP headquarters has mentioned again and again its plan to screen the film around the nation and wanted to see how China would respond. Isn't this provocative?” Lin said.
Lin said the DPP's motive was “problematic” because the party was trying to capitalize politically on the screening.
KMT caucus secretary-general Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said the DPP's “political manipulation” of the recent visit of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and a possible visit by Kadeer had dealt a serious blow to the tourism business in southern Taiwan.
DPP spokesman Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said the party would have its officials screen the documentary in their own constituencies after the party obtains the film's copyright.
At a separate setting, DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) said China did not have the right to decide which films should be screened or banned in Taiwan.
“Under pressure from China, we cannot even decide what film to screen. We would like to ask Wu Den-yih and Ma where the freedom, democracy and human rights they have been talking about are,” Chiu said.
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