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China warns Ireland to ‘stop interfering’ as leader of persecuted Uyghurs attends meeting with Irish

Eoghan Moloney

February 22, 2022

Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress, was labelled a "terrorist" by the Chinese Embassy in Ireland on Monday.

Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse.

Ireland has been urged to “respect China’s sovereignty” and to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs” after an Uyghur leader attended a meeting in the Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday.

Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), urged Ireland to “take action on Uyghur genocide” when he met with UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor and with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In response, the Chinese Embassy in Dublin said they “strongly condemn the anti-China separatist activities of the so-called ‘World Uyghur Congress’ in Ireland, and firmly oppose Irish government officials’ meeting with Dolkun Isa”.

The Embassy also accused “a few” Irish politicians of spreading “lies on Xinjiang and support for terrorist and separatist activities” and jumping “on the bandwagon of dirty political farce against China”.

The Chinese Embassy labelled the WUC as an “extremist organisation” and said its leader Dolkun Isa is a “terrorist” who is suspected of “organising and committing a series of violent terrorist activities and serious crimes in China”.

Rights groups and some western governments have called for China to end what the United States deems its genocide against ethnic Uyghurs and Muslim minorities in eastern China. United Nations researchers and rights activists estimate more than one million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang.

China rejects accusations of abuse, describing the camps as vocational centres designed to combat extremism, and in late 2019 said all people in the camps had "graduated".

“The issues concerning Xinjiang are not about human rights, nationality or religion, but about fighting terrorism, separatism and religious extremism. The so-called "genocide", "cultural extermination" or "forced labour" in Xinjiang, which are based on flat lies and disinformation, are political manipulations with hidden motives,” a statement from the Chinese Embassy said.

“We urge the Irish side to respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and stop interfering in China's internal affairs under the guise of “human rights”. For those Irish politicians who have jumped on the bandwagon of dirty political farce against China, we urge them to stop parroting disinformation,” the statement continued.

This comes just three weeks after Irish citizen Richard O’Halloran was allowed to leave China after three years of being held against his will. Upon his release, Minister Coveney thanked the Chinese Embassy for their “cooperation” with regard to his release.

In a response to this evening, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the protection and promotion of human rights is “a cornerstone of Ireland’s foreign policy” and Ireland always emphasises to China their “obligation to act in a manner that ensures the full respect for the rule of law”.

“Ireland consistently raises the treatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in the province of Xinjiang bilaterally with China and in multilateral fora such as the United Nations Human Rights Council,” the department said.

“The protection and promotion of human rights is a cornerstone of Ireland’s foreign policy. Ireland emphasises to the Chinese authorities their obligation to act in a manner that ensures the full respect for the rule of law and complies with China's human rights obligations under national and international law,” a spokesperson for the Department said.


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