Exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer accused China of  “repression” on a conference in Japan after she was issued a visa.

Kadeer said her people fight for their very existence against China’s state-sanctioned persecution and marginalization. The Xinjang region, in the northwest, is home to the ethnic group. Millions of Han Chinese have migrated into the region, purportedly aided by Chinese authorities, resulting into ethnic tensions and violence.

Kadeer brought to light Beijing’s “forcible assimilation” program, that would eventually eliminate the Uighur people and other indigenous groups. She called for political reforms to change “authoritarian rule”. Beijing diffused the allegations, stating that it was helping Xinjang boost its local economy by giving employment to more ethnic minority workers.

Kadeer also visited Japan’s controversial Yasukuni shrine, dedicated to Japanese soldiers killed in wars, threatening to create a rift between Beijing and Tokyo by touching on sensitive issues. The conference was held after the trilateral summit of the East Asian powers.