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Husein Dzhelil standing in front of the Canadian Parliament buildings, Ottawa, Ontario, May2005.
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South Korea holding, General Secretary of World Uyghur Congress at airport

Article Link (AP)


SEOUL, South Korea — Immigration officials stopped an ethnic Uighur activist from Germany from entering South Korea and have been holding him at an airport since early this week, officials said Thursday.

Dolkun Isa, formerly from China, who is , has been held at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, since he arrived Tuesday, according to South Korea's justice and foreign ministries.

Uighurs are a minority Muslim group native to western China, where July ethnic unrest left nearly 200 dead, according to official count.

Ministry officials refused to say why they were holding Isa, but Yonhap news agency reported that authorities were investigating him because he is on a Chinese list of alleged terrorists.

Yonhap cited an unidentified German Embassy official in Seoul. Calls to the embassy late Thursday went unanswered.

The Chinese government has accused the U.S.-based leader of the pro-independence World Uyghur Congress, Rebiya Kadeer, of fomenting the July unrest but has publicized little evidence to support its claims.

Isa, reached by his German mobile phone, said Thursday that airport immigration officials haven't explained to him why he is being held.

"I don't know what the reason is," he said. "Korean immigration officials don't explain ... and just said I should stay here."

In Berlin, a Foreign Ministry official said German and South Korean officials have been discussing ways to find a solution but he refused to provide further details. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said she had not heard of Isa's case.

Isa, who sought asylum in Germany in 1996 after being forced to leave China, said he planned to talk about Uighur issues at the World Forum for Democratization in Asia, which started Wednesday. Isa said he still hopes South Korea will allow him to attend the three-day forum in Seoul.

The Dutch-based Underrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization issued a statement Wednesday urging South Korea to release Isa immediately.

Isa's detention "threatened the image of South Korea as a lodestar for democracy" in Asia, UNPO General Secretary Marino Busdachin said.

The statement urged South Korea to reject what it called "completely ... fabricated accusations leveled against him by Chinese authorities" and not to extradite him to China where it said he would be certain to face summary execution.
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