India Cancels Visa for Uighur Separatist Following China’s Protest

JAPAN, Tokyo : Dolkun Isa, Secretary General of the World Uyghur Congress speaks to an AFP reporter during an interview in Tokyo on May 2, 2008. Dolkun Isa is here to protest against upcoming visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

India will no longer grant a visa to Dolkun Isa, a separatist leader from the China’s Muslim Uighur minority. China had expressed strong opposition to Isa receiving a visa.

On Monday, Isa suggested China had pressured India into denying him the travel document.

“On April 23, I got a very short note by the Indian side that my visa is cancelled. There was no explanation… May be because of Chinese pressure put on the Indian government. But, I do not know… I did not get any explanation from the Indian side,” said Isa, according to The Times of India.

In a separate report, the Times notes that that India cancelled the visa, citing Interpol’s red corner notice against Isa.

“Isa, a leader of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) who lives in Germany, had been invited to a conference being organized by the US-based ‘Initiatives for China’. Uyghurs and many other Chinese dissidents in exile were expected to attend the conference in India and discuss democratic transformation in China,” adds the report.

Isa, who is from China’s volatile Muslim-majority Xinjiang province, was among several Chinese dissidents invited to the April 28 conference. He has been deemed a terrorist by China while the WUC has been exiled by Beijing.

India’s initial decision to grant a visa to the Uighur dissident reportedly stemmed from Beijing blocking New Delhi’s bid to get Masood Azhar, chief of Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad, banned by the United Nations, notes the Times.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying expressed disapproval last week when India announced it was awarding a visa to the Uighur separatist.

“What I want to point out is that [Isa] is a terrorist in red notice of the Interpol and Chinese police. Bringing him to justice is due obligation of relevant countries,” he said.

The April 28 conference that Isa was invited to is being organized by a U.S.-based organization called Initiatives for China, explains India Today. It is a pro-democracy movement, whose leader Yang Jianli was among the student protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

“The meeting is expected to bring together Uyghurs, Tibetans and other dissidents and exiles, under the theme of discussing democratic transformation in China,” reports India Today. 

China has urged the international community to arrest Isa, who has been accused of organizing terrorist activities in Xinjiang province.

“Isa was in 2009 barred from entering South Korea after appearing on a terrorist blacklist. At the time, Chinese State media reports said he was wanted by the Ministry of Public Security for bombings in Toksu, in Xinjiang, in the 1990s,” reports India Today. “Isa left China in 1997 and was granted asylum in Germany, where he has been living ever since.”

“China has accused Isa’s World Uyghur Congress for fomenting violence in Xinjiang, most notably in 2009, when mass riots claimed at least 197 lives,” it adds. “The WUC has rejected the charges, saying it is working to highlight repression faced by Uyghur minorities.”