(dpa) - An association of Uyghurs in exile accused China of "cultural genocide" and called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics at the start of a Uyghur congress in Berlin on Monday.
Uyghurs from the north-western Chinese region of Xinjiang were being detained, tortured and deported in an attempt to crush their language and culture, Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Congress of Uyghurs (WUC), said.
The repression of the largely Sunni Muslim Uyghurs had increased during the run-up to the Games, Kadeer said.
She called for the Olympics to be boycotted, and more particularly for political leaders to boycott the opening ceremony on August 8, saying the Beijing Games had brought her people nothing but suffering.
Kadeer said Chinese authorities had effectively deported hundreds of thousands of Uyghur women between the ages of 15 and 25 to other parts of China under the pretext of providing jobs for them.
Many Chinese had been brought to the region to take their places with the aim of eradicating Uyghur culture, she said.
Kadeer, a mother of 11 and a successful businesswoman, was once a member of the Chinese National People's Congress.
After spending time in prison in China, she now lives in exile in the United States. According to the WUC, two of her sons are in detention in China.
The human rights commissioner of the German parliament, Guenter Nooke, called on Beijing to enter into constructive and open dialogue with the minority Uyghurs.
He also demanded that journalists should be allowed to report on conditions in China ahead of the Games.
Nooke urged European Union countries to accept 17 Uyghurs being held at the US Guantanamo Bay military base, noting that the US authorities are prepared to release them.