WASHINGTON—U.S.-based Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer has said the arrest of her three adult sons by authorities in China amounts to retaliation by officials angered by her criticism of Chinese rule in the region.
“My family in Urumqi has been notified in writing that my three sons have been arrested and my daughter is under house arrest,” Kadeer told RFA’s Uyghur service.
”The Chinese government is acting shamelessly. They know my children are innocent, and they also know that people around the world won't believe the accusations against my children,” she said.
The new-born Rebiya Kadeer does not belong just to herself and to her family.
“My children never committed tax fraud. They have never been involved in politics, they owe nothing to anyone, and they are well-mannered in their business and trade with other people.”
Officials in the predominantly Uyghur region of Xinjiang, contacted by telephone, declined to comment on the matter.
Kahar Abdureyim, Ablikim Abdureyim, and Alim Abdureyim were officially charged last week in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, where Kadeer was once lauded as a model businesswoman and later imprisoned for her pro-independence views.
Beijing claims it is fighting a war on terror in the troubled region, where Chinese rule is deeply unpopular, and where Uyghurs enjoyed two brief periods of self-rule as East Turkestan during the 20th century.
The authorities have charged Kahar with evading taxes, Ablikim with conspiracy to overthrow the government, and Alim with tax evasion and attempts to split the country, according to the Uyghur American Association, of which Kadeer is president.
She said any attempts to silence her through her family back in China would fail.
“Since the Chinese authorities arrested me on Aug. 11, 1999, a new Rebiya Kadeer has been born. The new Rebiya Kadeer is a part of the world.”
The new Rebiya Kadeer is voice of the twenty million Uyghur people, the voice of women who had forced abortions, the voice of the forcibly aborted child.
“The new Rebiya Kadeer is voice of the 20 million Uyghur people...Rebiya Kadeer is the voice of political prisoners, and of innocent people who died without a voice in prison. She is the voice of innocent children sold to human-traffickers and drug-traffickers,” she said.
“The new-born Rebiya Kadeer does not belong just to herself and to her family,” Kadeer said.
Kadeer, a self-made millionaire jailed for criticizing Beijing’s heavy-handed rule in mostly Uyghur Xinjiang, was recently elected president of the nonprofit Uyghur American Association.
She vowed to work for “human rights and religious freedom for the Uyghur people in East Turkestan."
Kadeer was handed an eight-year jail term in 1999 en route to meet with a team of U.S. congressional researchers.
She was paroled and exiled to the United States in 2005, and she has said she was warned to keep her criticism of China to herself or her adult children still in Xinjiang “would be finished.”
The Chinese authorities have accused Uyghur independence activists of terrorism and blamed them for more than 260 terrorist acts in Xinjiang over the last 20 years in which 160 people have died and 440 have been injured.
But human rights groups say China has used its support for the U.S.-led war on terror to justify a wider crackdown on Uyghurs characterized by arbitrary arrests, closed trials and the use of the death penalty.
Original reporting by RFA’s Uyghur service. Director: Dolkun Kamberi. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie and edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.