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Rebiya Kadeer

Rebiya Kadeer
Born (1946-11-15) 15 November 1946
Residence Virginia,[1] United States
Nationality Chinese
Ethnicity Uyghur
Occupation Political activist
Known for President of the World Uyghur Congress
Religion Sunni Islam
Spouse(s) Abdurehim Tohti (m. 1962, div. 1977),[2] Sidik Haji Rozi (m. 1981)
Children 6 (with Abdurehim Tohti), 5 (with Sidik Rozi)

Rebiya Kadeer (World Uyghur Congress. Kadeer speaks Uyghur and Mandarin Chinese.


  • Early life and career 1
    • Family history 1.1
    • First marriage 1.2
    • Entrepreneurship 1.3
    • As Chinese politician 1.4
    • Imprisonment 1.5
  • Release and later career 2
    • July 2009 riots 2.1
    • The 10 Conditions of Love 2.2
    • Accusation against East Turkistan Government in Exile 2.3
    • Appeal to Japan for support 2.4
  • Works 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life and career

Rebiya Kadeer was born into poverty [2] in the city of Altay, then she married in 1965 and moved to the city of Aksu.

Family history

According to her autobiography, Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China, Rebiya Kadeer's father served with pro-Soviet Uyghur rebels under the Second East Turkestan Republic in the Ili Rebellion (Three Province Rebellion) in 1944-1946, using Soviet assistance and aid to fight the Republic of China government under Chiang Kai-shek.[3] Kadeer and her family were close friends with White Russian exiles living in Xinjiang and Kadeer recalled that many Uyghurs thought Russian culture was "more advanced" than that of the Uyghurs and they "respected" the Russians a lot.[4]

First marriage

Due to poverty, Kadeer had to enter her first marriage as a housewife and having 6 children, but at some point she began independently making and selling clothes and other small articles for additional income.

During the Chinese cultural revolution she was suppressed for her efforts, as the Chinese government attempted to break up her family. She claims that the Chinese government told her ex-husband to divorce her. She recounts "They put pressure on him to divorce me because they accused me of secretly doing business. They said that it was wrong for me to do secret business."[5]


Following her divorce, Kadeer opened a laundry service in 1976. She later remarried in 1981 to Sidik Haji Rouzi, then an associate professor, who is divorced by his ex-wife for his activism. They moved to Ürümqi, having 5 children together.[6] In Ürümqi, Kadeer leased a market in the local business district, and converted it into a department store that specialized in Uyghur ethnic costumes. In 1985, Kadeer converted the building into a 14,000 square meter commercial building.[7]

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kadeer engaged in cross-border trade, accumulating assets which at their peak were worth more than 200 million yuan.[8] She became one of the five richest people in China, and her success earned her the nickname "the millionairess". The trading company she operated had businesses in China, Russia and Kazakhstan.[9] Kadeer founded the Akida Industry and Trade Co, which owns a number of properties in Xinjiang province. These include The Akida Trade Center, the adjacent Kadeer Trade Center and the Tuanjie, or Unity, theatre in Ürümqi.[10]

Kadeer was an active philanthropist within the community, most notably through her foundation, 1,000 Mothers Movement, a charity intended to help Uyghur women start their own local businesses, as well as support underprivileged and orphaned Uighur children.[8]

As Chinese politician

Kadeer was not always at odds with the government, and was once welcomed as an appointed delegate to the eighth session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference,[8] the National People's Congress and was a representative to the UN Fourth World Conference for Women in Beijing in 1995.[11] Kadeer has also served as vice chairwoman of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region Federation of Industry and Commerce, and vice chairwoman of the Xinjiang Association of Women Entrepreneurs.


In 1996, her husband and Uyghur independence activist Sidiq Rouzi left China for the United States, working as a broadcaster for the US radio stations Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.[12] Kadeer's failure to denounce Rouzi's anti-China activities and repeated polemics against the government's ethnic policies in the national parliament led her not to be reelected to the National People's Consultative Conference in 1998.[6] Although large newspapers such as the People's Daily or Xinjiang Daily downplay news about separatism or terrorism in Xinjiang, trusted government employees (as Kadeer once was) have access to neican ("internal reference reports"), which freely report on issues of concern to national security.[13]

Kadeer funneled Rouzi two years' worth of the neican publications Kashgar Daily, Xinjiang Legal News, Yining Daily, and Yining Evening News, with a focus on separatists' speeches. As Kashgar and Ghulja (Yining) are the two areas where separatist attacks are the most common, and Xinjiang Legal News contains extensive police reports on the government's counterterrorist operations, the government prepared to charge her with the offense of "passing on classified information to foreigners".[12] Kadeer was arrested in August 1999 while on her way to meet a US Congressional Research Service, with the additional charge of being in contact with nearly a dozen separatists.[6] She was tried in March 2000 in the Ürümqi Intermediate People's Court and convicted of violating article 111 of China's criminal code governing the leaking of state secrets.[8][14] Kadeer's imprisonment in the Liudaowan prison in Ürümqi became a cause célèbre in the British and American parliaments. She won the Rafto Prize for human rights while imprisoned[15] and she claims that she was not tortured in prison because of her newfound international reputation.[6] In the same year, her sentence was reduced by a year based on citations of good behavior where she was being held.

Release and later career

On 14 March 2005, Kadeer was released early on medical grounds, into United States' custody in advance of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region. The U.S., which had pressured for her release, agreed to drop a resolution against China in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch moderated their criticism somewhat as a consequence.[16] On 17 March, Kadeer flew to the U.S. and joined her family in Washington, D.C. In an interview with Phoenix Television before her departure to the US, she stated that she would remain a citizen of the People's Republic of China, and as a person born in the new China, she would sacrifice her own life for the integrity of China.[17]

In November 2006, she became the president of the separatist World Uyghur Congress,[18] and later also became president of the Uyghur American Association. In April 2007, one of her sons, Ablikim, was sentenced to 9 years in prison and 3 years deprivation of political rights, reportedly after confessing to charges of "instigating and engaging in secessionist activities." In November 2006 Alim, another of her sons, was sentenced to 7 years in prison and fined $62,500. Qahar Abdurehim, yet another of her sons, was fined $12,500 for tax evasion but not jailed. In June 2006, Alim, Ablikim, and Qahar were officially charged with state security and economic crimes.[19]

The Chinese government characterizes Kadeer as "an ironclad separatist colluding with terrorists and Islamic extremists."[1] But Kadeer stated her belief that all Uyghur organizations fight peacefully.[20] On 5 June 2007, at a conference on democracy and security held in [21] On 17 September 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed by a voice vote House Resolution 497,[22] demanding that the Chinese Government release the imprisoned children of Rebiya Kadeer and Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil, and change its suppressive policy towards the Uyghur people.[23]

Rebiya Kadeer claimed that Turkey is hampered from interfering with Uyghurs because it recognizes that its own Kurdish issue may get interfered with by China in retaliation.[24]

Rebiya Kadeer claimed Urumqi is "Uyghur land".[25] The name Urumqi came from the Dzungar Oirat language. Professor of Chinese and Central Asian History at Georgetown University, James A. Millward wrote that foreigners often mistakenly think that Urumqi was originally a Uyghur city and that the Chinese destroyed its Uyghur character and culture, however, Urumqi was founded as a Chinese city by Han and Hui (Tungans), and it is the Uyghurs who are new to the city.[26][27]

July 2009 riots

While the protests that preceded

  • Rashdan, Abdelrahman. Meeting the Uyghur Leader Rebiya Kadeer. Retrieved: Feb. 26, 2013.
  • One on One – Rebiya Kadeer on YouTube – interview on Al Jazeera English (video, 22 min)

External links

  • Esposito, John L.; Voll, John Obert; Bakar, Osman (2007). Asian Islam in the 21st Century. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 978-0-19-533302-2.
  • Kadeer, Rebiya (2009). Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China. Alexandra Cavelius (illustrated ed.). Kales Press.  
  • Millward, James A. (2007). Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-13924-3.
Additional References
  1. ^ a b Ford, Peter (9 July 2009). "Spiritual mother of Uighurs or terrorist?".  
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Kadeer 2009, p. 9.
  4. ^ Kadeer 2009, p. 13.
  5. ^ Basu, Arin. "I Want to Make my Fights International: Rebiya Kadeer". Interview. Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d Chu Miniter, Paulette (March 2007). "Taking a Stand for China’s Uighurs".  
  7. ^ qingzhenblogs. "The enticing life of Rebiya Kadeer". Blog article. qingzhenblogs. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Profile: Rebiya Kadeer". BBC News. 17 March 2005. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  9. ^ """Films "Leaving Fear Behind" and "China's Public Enemy No. 1 – Rebiya Kaadeer. Online Article about a Movie. City of Tublin. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Chan, Royston (8 September 2009). Reuters China to demolish Kadeer buildings in restive Urumqi China to demolish Kadeer buildings in restive Urumqi . 
  11. ^ China Frees Rebiya Kadeer. Radio Free Asia. 17 March 2005.
  12. ^ a b Dillon, Michael (2003). Xinjiang: China's Muslim Far Northwest. Psychology Press. pp. 82–83. 
  13. ^ Dillon, Michael. "Uyghur separatism and nationalism in Xinjiang". In Cole, Benjamin. Conflict, Terrorism, and the Media in Asia. p. 114. 
  14. ^ Millward (2007), p. 360.
  15. ^ Esposito; Voll; Bakar (2007), p. 208.
  16. ^ News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International. Amnesty International.
  17. ^ Uyghur Rebiya Kadeer on China on YouTube.
  18. ^ "Leadership of the World Uyghur Congress". Retrieved 10 July 2005. 
  19. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2007, US Department of State, 14 September 2007, accessed 28 Sept 2007
  20. ^ 热比娅:中国突袭东突营地令人怀疑 (in Chinese). BBC News. 10 January 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  21. ^ President Bush Visits Prague, Czech Republic, Discusses Freedom. White House. 5 June 2007.
  22. ^ GovTrack: H. Res. 497: Text of Legislation.
  23. ^ House of Representatives calls on the PRC to release Rebiya Kadeer's children and Uyghur-Canadian Hu. ObserveChina. 18 September 2007.
  24. ^ Kadeer, Rebiya (2009). Dragon Fighter One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China. Kales Press. p. 273.  
  25. ^ a b "Interview: 'I Can't Say The Struggle Will Always Be Peaceful,' Says Uyghur Advocate Kadeer". Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. February 27, 2011. 
  26. ^ James Millward (1 June 1998). Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity, and Empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759-1864. Stanford University Press. pp. 133–.  
  27. ^ James Millward (1 June 1998). Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity, and Empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759-1864. Stanford University Press. pp. 134–.  
  28. ^ "Civilians and armed police officer killed in NW China violence". Xinhua News. 5 July 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009. 
  29. ^ "Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer denied entry visa to Taiwan". The China Post (Taiwan (ROC)). 26 September 2009. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  30. ^ Wong, Edward (5 July 2009). "Riots in Western China Amid Ethnic Tension". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2009. 
  31. ^ Branigan, Tania (3 August 2009). "China says Uighur leader's family condemn her". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 3 August 2009. 
  32. ^ AFP (3 August 2009). "Uighur leader's family 'blame her' for unrest: report". MSN. Retrieved 3 August 2009. 
  33. ^ "Family hopes Kadeer will listen to their appeals". China Central Television. 4 August 2009. 
  34. ^ See details at IMDb
  35. ^ McGuirk, Rod (26 July 2009). Hackers put China flag on Australian film Web site. Associated Press.
  36. ^ Uighur premiere a sell-out in Australia. Agence France-Presse. 27 July 2009.
  37. ^ Hack attack hits Melbourne Film Festival –
  38. ^ Hackers attack Melbourne Film Festival website –
  39. ^ Chang, Maubo ( 22 September 2009). Documentary about Uighur political dissident shown in Kaohsiung. Central News Agency.
  40. ^ Only mainstream opinion welcome on cross-Strait relations: official. Xinhua. 22 September 2009.
  41. ^ Taiwan city screens film about Uighur activist. Jakarta Post
  42. ^ Child, Ben ( 22 September 2009). Chinese hackers strike again in protest over Uighur activist film. The Guardian.
  43. ^ Jia, Cui (22 September 2009). "Hacker attacks website over Kadeer film". China Daily. 
  44. ^ Documentary on Kadeer will screen at film festival. Taipei Times. 28 September 2009.
  45. ^ "Taiwan Fails to Learn From Its Own History"
  46. ^
  47. ^ "Uyghur leader visits Yasukuni shrine during Tokyo conference". Want China Times. 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 


  • with Cavelius, Alexandra (2008). Die Himmelsstürmerin: Chinas Staatsfeindin NR. 1 erzählt aus ihrem Leben. Heyne. ISBN 978-3-453-64041-2. (German)
  • English edition: Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-9798456-1-1. (restricted online copy at Google Books)


In May 2012, while in Tokyo for a conference engagement, Kadeer visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which is controversial because it is where Japanese war criminals are honored. She called on the Japanese government to support Uyghurs financially and politically.[47]

Appeal to Japan for support

Rebiya Kadeer accused the East Turkistan government in exile of being agents of China.[25]

Anwar Yusuf Turani set up the "East Turkistan Government in Exile" in 2004.[46]

Accusation against East Turkistan Government in Exile

The documentary was scheduled to be shown at the Kaoshiung Film Festival, Taiwan, in October 2009, but was later rescheduled to September, before the festival.[39] Wang Yi of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China opposed the film, saying it "beatifies the ethnic separatists" and sends "the wrong signals about terrorism and violence",[40] while the Chinese government warned the Kaoshiung city government not to "stir up trouble".[41] The website for the festival was also hacked.[42][43] It was later announced that the film would be shown at the film festival as originally planned,[44] but Kadeer's entry ban from Taiwan was extended by three years "based on security needs".[45]

[38][37] forced it to shut down.denial-of-service attack and festival information replaced with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans. All film sessions were falsely shown as booked out on the site, and a hacked Several Chinese directors pulled out of the event. The festival website was [36][35], about Kadeer. Its premiere was scheduled for the The 10 Conditions of Love made a documentary film, [34] In 2009, Jeff Daniels

The 10 Conditions of Love

Xinhua announced in early September 2009 that three properties owned by Kadeer's companies, including the Akida Trade Center, where more than 30 members of Kadeer's family were reportedly living, would be torn down due to "cracks in the walls and sunken footings".[10]

On 3 August, Xinhua reported that two of Rebiya Kadeer's children had written letters blaming her for orchestrating the riots. According to Xinhua, they pleaded: "We want a stable and safe life … Please think about the happiness of us and your grandchildren. Don't destroy our happy life here. Don't follow the provocation from some people in other countries."[31] Germany-based spokesman for the WUC rejected the letters as fakes. A Human Rights Watch researcher remarked their style was "suspiciously close" to the way the Chinese authorities had described rioting in Xinjiang and the aftermath.[32] CCTV broadcast a video of interviews with the family members of Kadeer on 4 August.[33]


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