Sat, Sep 19, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Uighur activist leaves S Korea, flies to Dubai


An ethnic Uighur activist left South Korea yesterday after immigration officials held him for three days at an airport, reportedly because China has blacklisted him as an alleged terrorist.

The Germany-based Dolkun Isa, general secretary of the World Uyghur Congress, left for Dubai from Incheon International Airport west of Seoul, where he had been held since his arrival Tuesday, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has reported that authorities investigated Isa because he is on a Chinese list of alleged terrorists. The report cited an unidentified German embassy official in Seoul.

Isa, reached Thursday on his mobile phone, said airport immigration officials hadn’t explained why he was being held.

“I don’t know what the reason is,” he said. “Korean immigration officials don’t explain ... and just said I should stay here.”

Isa said he had planned to talk about Uighur issues at the World Forum for Democratization in Asia, which started in Seoul on Wednesday.

Bo Tedards, Taiwan-based organizer of the three-day forum, has said he suspected Chinese pressure prompted the ban on Isa. He also accused immigration authorities of holding Isa despite his wish to return home to Germany.

Isa fled China in 1997 and was granted asylum in Germany. He secured German citizenship in 2006.

Amnesty International activist Roseann Rife said in a statement in Washington that South Korea should not deport Isa to China, calling him “a human rights defender.”

“Under no circumstances should he be deported to China, where he would risk arbitrary detention, unfair trial, torture and other ill-treatment and possibly even the death penalty,” the statement said.

Beijing accuses the Congress of fomenting recent ethnic violence in its northwestern region of Xinjiang, a charge that the group denies.

China has accused the US-based leader of group, Rebiya Kadeer, of fomenting the unrest, but has publicized little evidence to support its claims.

In an e-mail yesterday, congress spokesman Dilxat Raxit said Isa “was believed to be detained upon Beijing’s pressure on Seoul.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) said she had not heard of Isa’s case.

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