After exiled World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer was denied entry into Taiwan last year, another Uighur activist yesterday said he would not be able to make a scheduled trip to Taiwan because the Taiwanese office in Washington was still reviewing his visa application.
World Uyghur Congress vice president Omer Kanat was supposed to accompany Kadeer's daughter, Raela Tosh, to Taiwan to attend screenings of The 10 Conditions of Love, following the official release of the movie on DVD in Taiwan last month.
Guts United Taiwan (GUT), which is hosting the screenings of the film on Kadeer, was originally planning to invite the US-based exiled leader, but learned recently that after being denied entry into Taiwan last year, the Taipei government had placed her on a three-year blacklist.
GUT then invited Kanat and Tosh to come in her stead. However, Kanat was informed by an official at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington on the day of his departure that it was still reviewing his application.
Kanat, who holds a Turkish passport and a US green card, told the Taipei Times by telephone that when he sent his application in person to TECRO's visa division, two officers took his application, told him that everything was fine and that the office would contact him when his visa was ready.
However, on Friday morning, instead of being told his passport was ready for pickup, a TECRO officer told him that his visa was not yet ready.
“This morning, an officer from the embassy came to my office and told me that my visa was still not there, and I have to wait — but they knew I was leaving today [July 16],” Kanat said. “He [the officer] said they needed more time to [do] research.”
“The officer said that, because I was born in China they wanted to know whether I hold a Chinese passport,” Kanat said.
"Well, I became a Turkish citizen almost 20 years ago, so of course I don't have that [a Chinese passport],” Kanat said. “[The officer] stressed that Taiwan’s not rejecting my visa application, [it] just needed more time — but the explanation is not logical.”
When Kanat protested, the officer merely said that the instructions had come directly from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Taipei, and that he could do nothing about it, he said.
Asked if the Taiwanese officer was “embarrassed,” Kanat said: “I don’t want to use that term, but he apologized and said he was sorry. I asked him when the visa would be issued and he said that he didn’t know.”
“I feel sad that this has happened,” he added.
“I can only presume that this has created problems for them,” he said. “The Chinese must have put on pressure to stop my visa. It's the only thing that I can think of, but it's only an assumption. Why else would they not give me a visa?”
In Taipei, GUT chairman Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said he was “upset and disappointed” on hearing the news.
“First it's Kadeer, and now it's Kanat,” said Lim, who is also the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Chthonic. “The government tells us in flowery speeches that enhanced economic ties with China would not have any impact on political and human rights issues, but incidents like this tell it all.”
“It's ironic that officials from China can come to Taiwan any time, while human rights advocates from other countries like Kadeer and Kanat are banned from coming to Taiwan,” he added.
Asked to comment, MOFA deputy spokesman James Chang (章計平) said TECRO has its own considerations when reviewing visa applications.
When asked if the ministry had played a role in the delay of Kanat's visa application, Chang only said that TECRO “would sometimes report individual cases to Taipei, but they have their own considerations.”
Tosh will be attending the screening of The 10 Conditions of Love at the auditorium in Taipei City Council's basement at 7pm tomorrow.
Another screening will be held in Kaohsiung at 6:30pm on Tuesday. Initially scheduled to take place at the Moon Theater in the city’s PIER-2 Art Center, the venue has been changed to the Kaohsiung Human Rights School at Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit system's Formosa Boulevard station.
The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense recommended that consumers avoid buying Chinese mobile phones and advised people to throw away the ones they have now after a government report found the devices had built-in censorship capabilities. Flagship phones sold in Europe by China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp (小米) have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as “Free Tibet,” “Long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement,” Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday. The capability in Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the “European Union region,” but can be turned on remotely at any time,
CLOSE COOPERATION: A House of Representatives bill suggests inviting Taiwan’s navy to participate in the world’s largest international maritime military exercises The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed its annual defense policy bill, which includes provisions recommending that Taiwan be included in next year’s Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) and enhanced cooperation between Taiwan and the US National Guard. The House approved the US$777.9 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 in a 316-113 vote. The 1,390-page bill includes three major provisions related to Taiwan under sections 1243, 1247 and 1248. Section 1248 recommends that the US invite Taiwan’s navy to participate in next year’s RIMPAC. Taiwan has never been invited to participate in the event, which is the world’s largest
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the
‘FIGHT FOR VICTORY’: Eric Chu said his election victory would be the beginning of the DPP’s worries and that he would open all channels of communication with China Former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) was yesterday elected Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman in a four-way race that included outgoing chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣). Chu, 60, garnered 85,164 votes, or 45 percent of the 187,998 KMT members who cast ballots. Sun Yat-sen School president Chang Ya-chung (張亞中) trailed behind with 60,632 votes, followed by Chiang with 35,090 votes and former Changhua County commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) with 5,133 votes. Voter turnout was 50.71 percent. This will be Chu’s second time heading the party. He was elected KMT chairman in an unopposed by-election in January 2015 and resigned in January