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Uighur activist demands investigation

/ Source: The Associated Press

An exiled Uighur activist blamed by China for deadly ethnic riots demanded Wednesday that Beijing allow an international investigation into the disappearances of about 10,000 Uighur protesters she said are still missing.

The July 5 riots in China's western region of Xinjiang in which the minority Muslim Uighurs clashed with majority Han Chinese were the country's worst ethnic violence in decades.

Rebiya Kadeer, a U.S.-based dissident who heads the pro-independence World Uyghur Congress, provided no explanation of how she arrived at the 10,000 number. China has said 197 people were killed and more than 1,700 were injured in the city of Urumqi and that most were Han Chinese.

"Nearly 10,000 people disappeared overnight from Urumqi. Where did they go? Were they all killed or sent somewhere?" Kadeer asked angrily at a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo. "The Chinese government should fully disclose what it did to them."

China's state news agency reported Wednesday that authorities have arrested 253 more people suspected of being involved in the riots in addition to 1,400 people detained earlier.

Silence ‘disappointing’
Most of the newly detained suspects were turned in by local residents to police, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing Urumqi police.

Kadeer, 62, who arrived in Japan on Tuesday from Washington, said she found it "disappointing" to see countries including the United States remain silent over the riots.

"We want the international community, such as the United Nations, to send an independent investigative team," Kadeer told reporters.

Kadeer's visit drew fire from China even before she arrived. China has accused Kadeer of instigating the protests — a charge she has denied. Beijing protested the visit again Wednesday, summoning Japan's ambassador to the Foreign Ministry to express "strong dissatisfaction."

China "demanded that the Japanese government take immediate and effective measures to stop Kadeer from engaging in anti-China separatist activities in Japan," the ministry said in a statement.

Japanese Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama said Tuesday that Kadeer's visit should not be a problem because she is not scheduled to meet with any government officials during her three-day trip.

Kadeer also urged Japan to encourage Beijing to allow a U.N.-led inspection and to try to mediate a dialogue between the Uighurs and the government.

Earlier Wednesday, Kadeer met with a group of Japanese ruling party lawmakers, seeking their support to win the release of those detained.

"It is the Chinese government that is responsible for turning what had started as a peaceful march into the deadly riots," Kadeer said.

The July 5 riot erupted after police stopped a protest by Uighur residents. The Uighurs smashed windows, burned cars and beat Han Chinese. On subsequent days, the Han took to the streets and attacked Uighurs.