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Rebiya Kadeer

Prominent Uyghur leader, entrepreneur, and former political prisoner

Rebiya Kadeer is a prominent Uyghur political leader, entrepreneur, rights advocate, and humanitarian. She is the former president of the World Uyghur Congress. Born into a poor family, Rabiya rose to become one of China’s most successful entrepreneurs. In 1997, she launched the “Thousand Mothers Movement” to promote job training for Uyghur women. In August 1999, after denouncing state oppression of the Uyghurs, she was charged with “providing secret information to foreigners,” tried in secret, and sentenced to eight years in prison. She was incarcerated for more than five years in a region where prison conditions are notoriously harsh, and she spent two of those years in solitary confinement. Under international pressure, the Chinese government released Kadeer in 2005 on medical grounds. Kadeer fled to the United States. Called the “Mother of the Uyghur Nation,” she was awarded the Rafto Prize in 2004. She is also the author of “Dragon Fighter: One Woman’s Epic Struggle for Peace with China.”

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