The WUC Notes the Passing of Ayxan Memet, Mother of WUC President Dolkun Isa

World Uyghur Congress, 11 June 2018

It is with our deepest sadness and sympathies, that we note the passing of Ayxan Memet, mother of WUC President, Dolkun Isa, who passed away on May 17th, 2018, at the age of 78.

News only reached family members outside of East Turkistan early this morning, June 11th, nearly a full month later, making worse already tragic circumstances. Mr. Isa has not been able to see his mother or any other family members for the past 24 years after he was forced to flee the country in 1994.

Mrs. Memet, born in 1940 in Aksu prefecture, East Turkistan, was under very close surveillance for more than two decades and wished that she would be able to see her son one last time, but the wish would not be realised.

The last phone communication took place in March, 2017. It was around this time that thousands of Uyghurs around the world began to lose contact with loved ones who remain in East Turkistan.

Mrs. Memet was silently supportive of the work of her son throughout his activism, beginning in 1987 when Isa began advocating for the education rights for all Uyghurs. On June 15th, 1988, Isa, as President of his Student Association at East Turkistan University, initiated the University Students democratic movement to continue to demand for the education rights for Uyghur students. For his these two actions, Isa was eventually expelled from the university.

Mrs. Memet maintained her courageous support after Isa was forced to leave the country in 1994 and began his activism in Europe and elsewhere. The Chinese government initiated a campaign of threats and intimidation as well as strict surveillance of both parents that have lasted for the previous 24 years. Despite threats from the government, Mrs. Memet did not give in to pressure and maintained her composure throughout.

In these actions, Mrs. Memet showed not only support for her son’s activist role inside and outside the country, but also supported Isa for the democratic movement which he and others have inspired around the world. For this, she had been interrogated by Chinese authorities on hundreds of occasions but stood her ground and protected her son—and by extension, the movement itself.

In this example lives countless others. It is illustrative of the hardships endured by millions more in East Turkistan today. Parents and families are cruelly targeted as a means of dissuading those in free societies from telling fundamental and necessary truths.

Mrs. Memet and countless other mothers like her must be remembered and recognised for giving everything to the cause and asking nothing in return.

We wish that she may rest in peace and that one day Uyghurs like her will breathe freely.

-World Uyghur Congress
June 11, 2018