Sat, Sep 26, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Government prevents visit by Kadeer

NOT WELCOME The premier said the government needed to consider the impact of her visit on Taiwan’s international relations, image, cross-strait relations and economy

By Flora Wang and Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The government yesterday decided to deny World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer entry to Taiwan on the grounds that her visit would harm the national interest.

Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said on the legislative floor yesterday afternoon that the government would not allow Kadeer to visit Taiwan if she applied for a visa.

Jiang said the World Uyghur Congress was related to a terrorist organization, while many countries had also been alerted to the congress’ general secretary.

“If Kadeer visits Taiwan, the purpose of her visit would have something to do with Xinjiang’s independence movement,” Jiang said.

“Like the precautionary measures we took during the nation’s previous two important [international] sports events [the World Games and the Deaflympics,] we are trying to prevent terrorism from overshadowing Taiwan. Therefore, we decided to give priority to our national interests,” he said.

Jiang said the National Immigration Agency cited Article 18 of the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法) as the reason for the rejection. It stipulates that the agency enjoys the authority to deny entry by foreign nationals who may harm Taiwan’s national interests or social order.

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who was fielding questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators, said the Cabinet supported the ministry’s decision.

Kadeer had been invited by two civic groups — Guts United Taiwan and the Taiwan Youth Anti-Communist Corps — to visit Taiwan in December.

The groups extended the invitation after China protested against the Kaohsiung Film Festival’s decision to screen The 10 Conditions of Love, which focuses on Kadeer.

After meeting Guts United, Taiwan president Freddy Lim (林昶佐) at her Washington office on Wednesday, Kadeer said: “I would love to visit Taiwan, but I have not even applied for the visa yet. I want to tell Taiwanese about our struggle and about the plight of the Uighur people. I hope they will let me visit so that I can tell this human rights story.”

The deputy secretary-general of the KMT caucus, Justin Chou (周守訓), yesterday said he respected the government’s decision.

“Kadeer is a politician and a sensitive figure in the world,” Chou said.

Throughout the question-and-answer session with legislators yesterday, Wu repeatedly said the government would give priority to the national interest when handling Kadeer’s planned visit.

Wu said the government needed to consider the impact of her visit on Taiwan’s international relations, image, cross-strait relations and the economy.

KMT headquarters yesterday also said it supported the government’s decision to reject any visa application by Kadeer and condemned the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for manipulating the issue for its own political interests.

KMT spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) said US President Barack Obama had recently decided not to meet the Dalai Lama during his trip to the US to protect the country’s national interests. Japan had also prevented visits by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) for the same reason.

“The decision made by the government today is based on national and public interests,” he said.

Liao Wei-cheng (廖偉程), executive director of Guts United, Taiwan, however, criticized the government for making a decision before Kadeer had even filed a visa application.

“If the Chinese Nationalist Party government doesn’t even bother to wait to see Kadeer’s visa application or look at her reason for wanting to come to Taiwan before refusing her visit, I suspect that there’s a blacklist, and we seem to have returned to the White Terror era,” Liao told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview yesterday. “The government said they made the decision based on the interests of the country — of which country? Of China?”

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