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July 31, 2009

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More films pulled over Kadeer trip

THREE more Chinese-language films have been pulled from an Australian film festival to protest the planned appearance of a Uygur separatist blamed for inciting recent riots in northwest China's Xinjiang region, organizers said yesterday.

Rebiya Kadeer's scheduled visit to the Melbourne International Film Festival has already prompted Venice Film Festival winner Jia Zhangke and Hong Kong director Emily Tang to withdraw their movies.

The makers of short Chinese documentary "YB Box," Hong Kong-Taiwan romance "Miao Miao" and Hong Kong black comedy "The Moss" have also withdrawn their films, festival spokeswoman Louise Heseltine told The Associated Press.

The boycotting filmmakers are upset by Kadeer's visit and the screening of a documentary about her, Heseltine said.

Kadeer is set to attend a screening of a documentary about her life at the film festival on August 8 and address the National Press Club in Canberra in a nationally televised speech on August 11.

"YB Box" director Liu Feng thought the Melbourne event had become too political, a publicist said.

An official at Mei Ah Entertainment Group Ltd, which made "The Moss," said it was following the lead of other Chinese filmmakers.

Jia pulled his 19-minute short "Cry Me a River," and Tang withdrew her feature film "Perfect Life."

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said yesterday Kadeer was granted a visa on Wednesday to visit Australia despite being accused of instigating the worst and most deadly violence China has seen in decades.

China has made repeated requests to Australia's government to refuse her a visa.

China is one of Australia's most important trading partners and the two countries are negotiating a free trade agreement as part of closer bilateral ties.

"We have a very important and good relationship with China, but from time to time on issues we differ and Rebiya Kadeer coming to Australia is one of those issues," Smith told Sky TV news. "But our relationship will sustain this."

Australian rules allow visitors to be refused visas on character grounds based on evidence such as criminal records. "We have no evidence or information that she's a terrorist and so she has been granted a visa in accordance with our usual immigration processes," Smith said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Chinese Embassy in Canberra said: "Facts have proven that the violent crime that occurred in Xinjiang was instigated, masterminded and directed by World Uygur Congress headed by Rebiya Kadeer."


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