Organizers of one of Australia's most prestigious film festivals say the Chinese
government has demanded that it reject a controversial documentary about ethnic
Uighurs. Beijing's dismay at the film about exiled Uighur businesswoman Rebiya
Kadeer follows violent ethnic disturbances in China's Xinjiang region.
Rebiya Kadeer for instigating this month's ethnic riots in Xinjiang.
Chinese consular staff in Australia contacted organizers of the
Melbourne International Film Festival urging them to dump a film about the
exiled businesswoman. She is a strident campaigner for the rights of China's
mainly Muslim Uighurs, who have close cultural ties to Central Asia and Turkey.
She denies having any role in the unrest and says she opposes
The documentary looks at Kadeer's relationship with her family
and the effect her political activism has had on her 11 children, three of whom
have been jailed.
Beijing accuses Kadeer's World Uighur Congress of
being a front for extremists pushing for a separate East Turkistan homeland in
western China. She was arrested in 1999 and found guilty of "providing secret
information to foreigners". After six years in prison she was allowed to go into
exile in the United States.
Beijing is angry that the movie The 10 Conditions of Love is to receive its
premiere early next month in Melbourne.
Film festival director Richard
Moore says he was pressured by a Chinese diplomat over the film.
a call from a fairly strident Miss Chen at the Chinese consulate here in
Melbourne who proceeded to tell me that I should a) withdraw the film from the
festival and b) that I had to justify our action including the film in the
festival program," said Moore.
Organizers say they have no intention of
bowing to China's demands, and the film will play as scheduled.
unrest broke out on July 5, after police tried to break up a protest by Uighurs
in Xinjiang. The government says more than 180 people, most of them Han Chinese,
died in the violence, but Uighurs say many more Uighurs died.
Uighurs complain that Beijing represses their religious practices, and
discriminates against them. But members of China's Han majority say minority
groups get special benefits - such as preferential university places and the
right to have more than one child.
Canberra and Beijing are still
embroiled in a diplomatic standoff over China's arrest of a senior Australian
Rio Tinto mining executive accused of industrial espionage during negotiations
of iron ore prices.