Isa Alptekin

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Isa Yusuf Alptekin
Member of the Legislative Yuan from Xinjiang province
In office
1939 – -
Personal details
Born 1901
Kashgar, Qing Dynasty
Died 1995
Istanbul, Turkey
Profession Politician
Religion Sunni Islam

Isa Yusuf Alptekin or ʿĪsa Yūsuf Alptekin (Uyghur: ئەيسا يۈسۈپ ئالپتېكىن‎ Айсабек (known in China as Ai Sha, Chinese: 艾沙伯克; pinyin: àishābókè) Chinese: 艾萨·玉素甫·阿布甫泰肯; pinyin: Àisà Yùsùfŭ Ābùfŭtàikěn;[1] 1901 – 17 December 1995) was a Uyghur political leader, exiled from China in 1949.


He was born at 1901 in Yengisar County, Kashgar, Qing Dynasty. He headed the First East Turkestan Republic in Kashgar from November 12, 1933 to February 6, 1934 as the General Secretary of the National Assembly of the Republic, alongside Prime Minister Sabit Damulla, and titular President Hoja-Niyaz. He also represented Xinjiang in Nanjing from 1932 to 1934. Initially the republic was named the "Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkestan" (TIRET), representing the multi-national staff of its government, which included Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz; its anti-Hui, anti-Han, and anti-communist policies, declared in its declaration of independence; and basic Islamic principles, declared in its constitution.

He stayed in Nanjing, and then fled to Chongqing with the Chinese government when Japan invaded. He lived there along with several other Uyghurs like Masud Sabri. Some Uyghurs attended the Chinese military academy.

In 1939 Isa Yusuf Alptekin and Ma Fuliang were sent by Chiang Kai-shek to the Middle eastern countries such as Egypt, Turkey, and Syrian to gain support for the Chinese War against Japan, they also visited Afghanistan in 1940 and contacted Muhammad Amin Bughra, they asked him to come to Chongqing, the capital of the Kuomintang regime. Bughra was arrested by the British in 1942 for spying, and the Kuomintang arranged for Bughra's release. He and Isa Yusuf worked as editors of Kuomintang Muslim publications.[2]

Isa returned to Xinjiang, and he opposed the Second East Turkestan Republic in northern Xinjiang during the Ili Rebellion since it was a Soviet puppet state, instead, he worked for the Chinese Kuomintang regime of Zhang Zhizhong. He asked Ma Bufang on whether Chiang Kaishek and the Chinese government would allow an independent Islamic state in southern Xinjiang to counter the Communists and the Soviet backed East Turketsan Republic, but Ma Bufang did not bother with this request, instead, Ma fled on an American CIA plane as the Communist army approached Qinghai with several million dollars in gold. Ma then fled to Taiwan, then to Egypt.

Isa lead a delegation of 36 Uyghurs to defend murderers in Lanzhou who slaughtered eleven relatives of Sheng Shicai in revenge for relatives that Sheng killed in Xinjiang during his rule. Among the dead were a seven-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl who were Sheng's nephew and niece. Isa argued that the slaughter was justified.[3]

Alptekin fled the communist takeover of Xinjiang theough the Himalayas, reaching Ladakh in Kashmir and going into exile in Turkey. In 1954, he and Muhammad Amin Bughra went to Taiwan to try to persuade the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China of dropping its claims to Xinjiang. Their demand was rejected and Taiwan affirmed that it claimed Xinjiang as "an integral part of China".[4]

Isa Yusuf Alptekin was the father of Erkin Alptekin. During Alptekin's exile in Turkey, where he received great support from Pan-Turkic elements in the Government of Turkey, the PRC government denounced him for continuing his "Xinjiang independence activities", and for trying to overthrow the "socialist system". When he died there in 1995, over a million people[citation needed] allegedly attended his funeral, and he was buried in Topkapı Cemetery, next to the mausoleums of two former Turkish leaders, Adnan Menderes and Turgut Özal.[5][6] In 1995, a park was dedicated to Alptekin in the Blue Mosque section in Istanbul, along with a memorial for martyrs of the late East Turkestan Independence Movement. The high-profile nature of the dedication, including the attendance of the Turkish President, Prime Minister, chairman of parliament and others, enraged China. It denounced Turkey for meddling in its 'internal affairs', and the Turkish state department requested the closing of the park, but domestic constituencies refused.[1][7]


  1. ^ a b Allievi, Stefano; Nielsen, Jørgen (2003). Muslim networks and transnational communities in and across Europe. Brill Publishers. pp. 303–305. ISBN 978-90-04-12858-3. 
  2. ^ Lin 2010, p. 90.
  3. ^ Brown & Pickowicz eds. 2007, p. 191.
  4. ^ Page 52, Ismail, Mohammed Sa'id, and Mohammed Aziz Ismail. Moslems in the Soviet Union and China. Translated by U.S. Government, Joint Publications Service. Tehran, Iran: Privately printed pamphlet, published as vol. 1, 1960 (Hejira 1380); translation printed in Washington: JPRS 3936, September 19, 1960.
  5. ^ Polat 1995.
  6. ^ Kayıkçı 2008.
  7. ^ Çolakoğlu 2013, p. 35.


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