Rebiya Kadeer, president of the so-called World Uygur Congress, pitched her separatist tales in the European Parliament on Tuesday, but they appeared to be unpopular among European Union lawmakers.
Dressed in traditional Uygur clothing, Kadeer attended a session of the European Parliament's human rights committee and accused the Chinese government of mishandling the bloody July 5 riot in Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Speaking through an interpreter in the Uygur language, Kadeer claimed the Uygurs had established their own independent state before Xinjiang was liberated in 1949, referring to the autonomous region of China as "East Turkestan" throughout her speech.
But her accusations and separatist claims failed to convince some EU lawmakers.
Nirj Deva, a British member of the European Parliament, said he was confused as Kadeer's personal experience ran counter to her accusations.
"How is it possible for her to become one of the richest women in China if she has been discriminated against? If her human rights were trampled, is it possible for her to become a member of the Chinese National Committee of the Political Consultative Conference, which is one of the highest bodies of China's national assembly?" he asked.
Before going into exile and engaging in separatist activities abroad, Kadeer created a business empire and became a millionaire in Xinjiang. She was even listed as the eighth richest person on the Chinese mainland by Forbes in 1995. As a business mogul, she was elected to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in the 1990s.