Indian authorities have denied that Chinese pressure lay behind a decision to deny or revoke visas for participants in a conference in Dharamsala. From Sanjeev Miglani and Tommy Wilkes at Reuters:
Lu Jinghua, a U.S.-based dissident, and Ray Wong, a pro-democracy activist, had applied for Indian visas to attend the meeting this week in the northern hill town of Dharamsala, the base of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
India rejects accusations that it is caving into Chinese pressure to stop dissidents traveling to the country.
On Monday, India said it had canceled a tourist visa it had granted to exiled Uighur leader Dolkun Isa, who was due to attend the same conference.
[…] A senior Indian government official said there were valid reasons for the denial of visas to the two Chinese activists.
Lu’s visa documents were illegible and there was inconsistency about the purpose of her visit, the official said. Lu told Indian television on Thursday that she was stopped from boarding her flight in New York.
Wong’s documents included data inconsistencies, said the official, who declined to be identified. [Source]
Alex Chow Yong-kang, the former secretary general of Hong Kong Federation of Students, was also among those barred from entering India, Hong Kong Free Press’ Isaac Cheung reports. The conference in question, he notes, is the 11th InterEthnic InterFaith Leadership Conference. According to its Washington-based organizers, Initiatives For China::
[… The event] brings together Tibetans, Uighurs, Mongols, and Han Chinese, as well as Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, and Falun Gong practitioners, leaders of the Hong Kong Umbrella Protest movement, and representatives from Macau and Taiwan, as well as statesmen, scholars, and officials of major human rights NGOs. These conferences have steadily grown in the past few years and are now widely recognized as the single most important forum for the united pursuit of peaceful transition [to democracy] for China. They mark the first successful attempt to unite leaders from all of these ethnic, religious and regional groups and human rights advocates to work jointly to press for changing the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship. [Source]
Lu Jinghua claimed that the Indian government had initially confirmed her visa and did not notify her of the cancellation until she arrived at the airport in New York, where Indian airline officials prevented her from boarding her scheduled flight. From AFP:
Lu, who fled China following the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, said she had been granted a tourist visa to travel from her home in the United States to India.
But Lu said Air India officials stopped her at New York’s JFK airport from where she was due to fly to India to attend a conference this week in the hill station of Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama.
“They said I’m very sorry, you cannot go,” Lu told the India Today network from New York, adding that she had already received email confirmation of a visa.
India did not comment specifically on Lu, but has said in reference to another case that foreign visitors require a non-tourist visa to attend conferences.
“I was going to Dharamsala to meet the Dalai Lama so that’s the reason why they denied me the visa,” she said. [Source]
The New York Times’ Javier C. Hernandez reports on China’s response to India’s earlier decision to admit Dolkun Isa, the Germany-based secretary of the World Uyghur Congress:
China has labeled Mr. Isa, who fled the country in 1994, a terrorist, accusing him of aiding violent separatists in Xinjiang. Mr. Isa has denied the accusations.
After news of Mr. Isa’s planned trip to Dharamsala emerged last week, Chinese diplomats were livid. Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, “Bringing him to justice is the due obligation of relevant countries.”
But commentators in India defended the decision to grant him a visa, hailing it as a sign that New Delhi was standing up to Beijing. Some news organizations described the issuing of the visa as retaliation for China’s opposition to an India-led effort to add Maulana Masood Azhar, a Pakistani militant leader, to a United Nations list of terrorists. [Source]
Fighting terrorism is currently a top priority for the Chinese government. Officials have blamed the ongoing unrest and a series deadly attacks in Xinjiang and elsewhere in the country on radical separatists linked to international terrorism.