WUC Executive Committee Chairman Dolkun Isa Receives Award for Uyghur Rights Advocacy
Executive Committee Chairman of the World Uyghur Congress and long-time activist for Uyghur human rights received an award of recognition by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington DC, on March 30, 2016. The award was presented by Dr. Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Foundation, and recognized his tireless work and principled opposition to the continued persecution of the Uyghur community by the government of the People’s Republic of China.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation acts as a non-profit educational and human rights organization that devotes its efforts to commemorating the countless victims of ostensibly Communist systems throughout the last century. The foundation works to raise significant issues in relation to Communist regimes around the world and to advocate for the freedom of those living under such regimes today.
Dolkun Isa began his activism as a student at Xinjiang University in Urumqi. He protested China’s nuclear testing that began in the 1960s and in 1987 he formed the Student Association for Science–Culture with friends in order to engage Uyghur students in outreach programs across East Turkestan. He was then placed under house arrest in 1988 for his role in organizing a protest calling for equal rights and was subsequently expelled from the university for his role.
During his acceptance speech, Mr. Isa explained that “the Uyghur people stand firmly with the democratic peoples of the world who seek a conclusive end to the poverty and cruelty of communist repression”. He continued to explain how the Chinese government has persistently attempted to undermine his activism and block the activities of the World Uyghurs Congress. The use of labels like “terrorist”, the issuance of a warrant for his arrest through INTERPOL, and the constant harassment in international fora all remain strategies to discredit the work of Isa and other Uyghur activists.
Isa then goes on to explain that his outright rejection of the use of violence has acted as a major threat to the Chinese government, stating that “The Uyghurs are a people of peace and development” and that “These principles make the Uyghur issue not a Uyghur problem, but a Chinese government problem, a condition generated by systematic denial of fundamental human rights and freedoms”.
Upon presentation of the award, Executive Director Marion Smith remarked that, “Mr. Isa is a proud addition to the ranks of world leaders, brave activists and advocates for peace that have been honored by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation […] the Chinese government’s continued repression of its own people like the Uyghurs must not be allowed to go unchallenged” – a sentiment we wholeheartedly agree with.