A former chairman of the Xinjiang regional government said Saturday that Rebiya Kadeer was "not entitled to represent the Uygur people."
Ismail Amat, a Uygur who headed Xinjiang's regional government from 1979 to 1985, said the "spiritual mother of Uygur people" touted by East Turkestan terrorists was the "scum" of the Uygur community.
"It's widely known that Kadeer sold intelligence information to foreigners and she herself pled guilty in jail," he said. "How can such a person represent the Uygur people?"
Ismail Amat, who was also a vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top lawmaking body, said that by referring to Xinjiang as "East Turkestan" in her bylined article on the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Kadeer exposed her separatist mentality as well as her ignorance, or rather, vicious distortion of Xinjiang's history.
"East Turkestan" was a term cooked up by foreign invaders more than 200 years ago. he said. "The invaders had wanted, in vain, for all the Chinese people, the Uygur people included, to accept this name."
Xinjiang has been under the jurisdiction of China's central government since 60 B.C. and the Uygur people have always taken pride in their Chinese nationality, he added.
"In the 19th century, the Xinjiang people fought courageously against the Tsarist Russian invaders and foiled the British attempt to colonize the region," he said. "They contributed greatly to China's unification and prosperity."
"It's grieving indeed to see a handful of mobs damaged the reputation of the Uygur people in last Sunday's riot, but they do not represent all the Uygurs either," he said. "These people blaspheme Islam, which insists killing is a crime."
The riot has so far caused 184 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries, left hundreds of vehicles burnt, shops looted and other public facilities destroyed.
"If Kadeer and the separatist 'World Uygur Congress' wanted to take ethnic relations as an excuse to sabotage China's unification, we must be vigilant and firmly crush their plot," he said.
Kadeer was jailed in 1999 on charges of harming national security. She left for the United States shortly after she was released on bail in 2005. She is now leader of the World Uygur Congress, which has close contact with terrorist organizations.
She was once the richest woman in Xinjiang and was named by Forbes in 1995 as the eighth richest on the Chinese mainland.