Dolkun Isa, co-founder and current General Secretary of the World Uyghur Congress, was born on 1967 in Aksu, East Turkestan. He enrolled in the Physics department of Xinjiang University in 1984. Dolkun Isa participated actively in the Uyghur Student Demonstrations in December 1985. He founded the Students’ Science and Culture Union at the university in 1987 and worked on programs to eliminate illiteracy and to promote science and to lead other students in East Turkestan.
He was the leader of the student’s demonstration on 15 June 1988 and was expelled from the university in September, 1988 after four months of house arrest and a six hour-long dialogue with government officials about the students’ demands.
From 1990 to 1994, he learnt English and Turkish at Beijing Foreign Language University, and engaged in distributing relevant Uyghur history books. In 1994, he was forced to leave China and fled to Turkey, where he started his Master’s Degree in Political Science from Gazi University in Ankara. He then founded the Eastern Turkestan Students and Youth Union and served as the Chairman during his time in in the country.
In early 1996, he sought political asylum in Germany. In November 1996, he played an important role in establishing the World Uyghur Youth Congress in Germany and served as Executive Chairman and President. In April 2004, he also played an important role in the establishment of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) through the merger of the East Turkestan National Congress and the World Uyghur Youth Congress and was elected General Secretary of the new organization. He has since been presenting Uyghur human rights issues to the UN Human Rights Council, European Parliament, European governments and international human rights organizations.
The Chinese government has intimidated and harassed Dolkun Isa in an attempt to prevent his advocacy activities. Some states have even barred his entry and prevented his participation in a number of international conferences. In 2008, he was denied to enter Turkey and September 2009, he was detained for three days at the Seoul airport and was nearly sent back to China. After negotiations by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. State Department, he was finally returned to Germany at the last moment.
Dolkun Isa received its award of recognition for his dedicated human rights advocacy by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. The ceremony was held at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, DC, on March 30, 2016.