NEW DELHI: After being denied a visa by the Indian authorities to visit Dharamsala for a conference, Dolkun Isa, a leader of the World Uyghur Congress, on Monday expressed disappointment and described the move by New Delhi as its effort to maintain bilateral ties with China.
Speaking to ANI over telephone Isa said, “I really wanted to visit India. It was one of my dreams. I wanted to enjoy Indian culture.”
“I think my visa denial was India's effort to maintain its bilateral relations with China,” he added.
Isa, in a statement earlier, said, “As the Executive Committee Chairman of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), I express my disappointment on Indian authorities’ cancellation of my visa to attend the annual Inter-ethnic Interfaith Leadership Conference taking place in Dharamsala, India, from April 30 to May 1, 2016.
This conference remains a vital forum through which ethnic and religious communities in China related areas, as well as statesmen, scholars and activists are able to meet openly to discuss and exchange ideas, promote peaceful dialogue, and reinforce bonds between disparate communities.”
“The Indian government had granted me a tourist e-visa, but it was cancelled after my visit was widely reported in the Indian press. Following numerous reports, the Indian authorities then proceeded to rescind the visa on April 23, 2016. I recognize and understand the difficult position that the Indian government found itself, and regrets that my trip has generated such unwarranted controversy,” he added.
He also said that this was not the first time that he had faced difficulties in his international travels to advocate Uyghur rights.
“In September 2009, I was detained briefly and denied entry to South Korea while travelling to attend the World Forum for Democratization in Asia, to which I was an invited guest. China also has regularly attempted to block or interfere with my human rights work at the UN in Geneva, in particular,” he said in the statement.
Isa also rejected any comparison or association with China’s recent veto to place JeM leader Mazood Azhar on the UN Security Council Sanctions list.
“Such an unjustifiable comparison seeks only to delegitimize my decades of impassioned work as a strictly non-violent campaigner for Uyghur rights,” he said.
“Finally, I would like to thank the Indian people for their determined solidarity and commitment to rights activists like myself who wish to continue to develop and support dialogue among peoples of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. I remain disappointed with the final decision, but I am hopeful that positive steps may be taken to maintain India’s relationship with the Uyghur community,” the statement added.
His visit was being seen as a retaliatory measure taken by the Indian Government after China blocked the listing of Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar as an international terrorist at the United Nation.
Dolkun Isa had been invited to a conference being organised by the US-based Initiatives for China.
Meanwhile, the organiser of the event, Tenzin Ninjey, had earlier said that China is wrong in calling him a terrorist.
"Dolkun Isa is a peace activist. There is no comparison at all with terrorist Masood Azhar," he told ANI.
Earlier, China had expressed unhappiness with Dolkun being given the visa with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying saying, “What I want to point out is that Dolkun is a terrorist in red notice of the Interpol and Chinese police. Bringing him to justice is due obligation of relevant countries.”