BEIJING, Dec 16: Two groups listed by China as “terrorist” organizations denounced the move on Tuesday as a politically motivated act unfairly targeting Muslims, while human rights activists said peaceful dissenters were being scapegoated.

“Terrorism and requesting political freedom are two different matters. We don’t spread terrorism. We advocate political freedom,” Dilxat Raxit, who represents the East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC) and World Uighur Youth Congress (WUYC), told AFP from his home in Sweden.

The groups were among four included on China’s first publicized list of “terrorist” organizations, along with 11 Uighur Muslims living abroad whom it identified Monday as trying to create an independent Islamic state called East Turkistan in its northwestern Xinjiang region.

Raxit argued the Turkish-speaking Uighurs have the right to advocate separatism.

“Look at Canada’s Quebec. They have people calling for independence, but the government there doesn’t call them terrorists,” he said.

China’s list appears to be an attempt to sway public opinion and enrol international support in repressing Uighur dissenters, said Nicholas Becquelin, research director at Human Rights in China’s Hong Kong office and a specialist on Xinjiang.—AFP

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