Dolkun Isa

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Dolkun Isa
3rd President of the
World Uyghur Congress
Assumed office
November 12, 2017
Vice PresidentErkin Ekrem,
Perhat Muhammet
Preceded byRebiya Kadeer
Personal details
Born (1967-09-02) 2 September 1967 (age 52)
Aksu City, Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang, China
ResidenceMunich, Germany
Alma materXinjiang University
Gazi University [1]
OccupationPolitical activist
Known forPresident of the World Uyghur Congress Vice-President of the UNPO[2]
WebsiteWorld Uyghur Congress website

Dolkun Isa (Uyghur: دولقۇن ئەيسا, Долқун Ейса‎; Chinese: 多里坤·艾沙; born 2 September 1967) is an Uyghur politician and activist from the region of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, also known as East Turkestan. He is the 3rd and current president of the World Uyghur Congress, in office since November 12, 2017. He previously served as General Secretary and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the congress separately, and has spoken on behalf of the rights of the largely Islamic minority Uyghurs which makes up the majority population in that region, and presenting Uyghur human rights issues to the UN Human Rights Council, European Parliament, European governments and international human rights organizations.

In 1988, when he was studying in Xinjiang University, he led the students demonstration on 15 June 1988 in Ürümqi against discriminations and unfair treatments on Uyghurs and was expelled from the school in the same year, later he fled to Europe. 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. The government of China has claimed that Isa's activities amount to terrorism but Isa vetoed all terrorist claims.[3] He is currently the president of the World Uyghur Congress and the Vice-President of UNPO.[4]

Early life and fleeing from China[edit]

Dolkun Isa was born 2 September 1967 in Aksu and raised by his grandparents in Kalpin County in Aksu Prefecture until 9 years old, later he moved back to Aksu City and completed his Middle school and High school there, in 1984 he was admitted by Faculty of Physics of Xinjiang University and studied there until his dismissal in early 1988 when it was just half year before his graduation time due to his human rights activities for minorities, after that he went back to Aksu and worked for education. In 1990, he went to Beijing and studied English and Turkish until 1994. In 1994, he left the country due to detention threat and studied in Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey and received a Master's degree in Politics and Sociology [5], later he went to Europe and sought asylum there. In 2006 he became a citizen of Germany. [6]

East Turkestan Independence Movement[edit]

China's government claims Isa is the vice chairman of the East Turkestan Liberation Organization, however, this is denied by Isa. This claim by China has led to China's issuance of a red notice to Interpol, but this has not been acted on by Germany or any other country in the West where he has since travelled.[7] He has been on a Chinese list of wanted terrorists since 2003.[8] Contrary to China's claims, Isa has condemned all terrorist activities.[9]

Olympic boycott[edit]

Isa called for a boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympics which were held in Beijing due to the cultural genocide that was being conducted against the people of East Turkestan and Tibet. Isa told AFP that China had failed to improve human rights in Tibet and China's western Xinjiang region, where Beijing is accused by rights groups of cracking down on local ethnic groups. Uyghur activists have been seeking independence or autonomy for the region, which they call East Turkestan. [10]

2006 and 2009 Taiwan controversies[edit]

Isa was admitted to Taiwan in 2006 to attend the meeting of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, a movement co-founded by Taiwan in 1991, during the administration of pro-localization president Chen Shui-bian. There were reports in Taiwan's media in July 2009 that Isa had secretly entered the country in the lead-up to the World Games which were hosted in the southern city of Kaohsiung. This prompted the National Immigration Agency of the then China-friendly KMT government to issue a ban on his travel to Taiwan.[11] Rebiya Kadeer was denied a visa to visit Taiwan later in 2009, a move linked to Isa's alleged connections with terrorists. Premier Wu Den-yih noted that if Isa steps down from his position in the World Uyghur Congress or if Kadeer steps down from her position, the ban would be lifted.[12]


Meeting with Binali Yıldırım[edit]

On 16 February 2018, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım met with the President of the World Uyghur Congress Dolkun Isa in Munich, where he came for the World Security Conference, Isa told the PM about the present situation of the 11 Uyghurs who are in custody in Malaysia and reiterated Chinese occupation, oppression assimilation, transformation and religious and ethnic genocide practices in East Turkestan. Dolkun Isa also met with Süleyman Soylu who is currently the Minister of the Interior of Turkey.[13][14]

Speaking in European Parliament[edit]

On 15 May 2018, on the occasion of a meeting of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Mr Dolkun Isa, Vice-President of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and President of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), together with Ms Sophie Richardson (China Director of Human Rights Watch) and Mr Ulrich Delius (Director of Society for Threatened Peoples), exchanged views on the human rights situation in China, with a special focus on the so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The Uyghurs are exposed to restrictions of their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of religion and belief and even freedom of movement in China. Arbitrary detentions, in particular under the pretext of China's "anti-terrorism" law, remain widespread.[15][16]

Campaign obstructions[edit]

South Korea entry denial[edit]

Isa was denied entry into the Republic of Korea and was briefly "detained" in September, 2009[17][18] while preparing to attend the World Forum for Democratization in Asia.[19][20] The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization condemned the detention and warned the Korean government in a letter that China's accusations are groundless and that extradition would certainly result in summary trial and execution at the hands of China's authorities.[21] After being held for two days, Isa was released without being admitted to the country, a move that was condemned by Amnesty International.[22]

Indian visa withdrawal[edit]

On 22 April 2016 it was widely reported that India had issued a visitors visa to Isa to attend a conference in Dharamshala, drawing the "ire" of China.[23] This was viewed as a hardening of India's stand against China since the Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer had previously been denied a visa to visit India. This move by the Indian Government was widely seen by Indian News Media[clarification needed] as an act of payback against China for its stand on not supporting JeM Chief Masood Azhar's designation[24] as a terrorist in the UNSC.[25] The Indian government in a U-turn from its earlier stance, later withdrew Isa's visa on 25 April 2016, a day after China raised objections to India [26]

Expulsion from UNPFII[edit]

On 26 April 2017, Uyghur human rights activist and member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) Dolkun Isa, who was participating in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), was forced to leave the UN premises. The incident occurred outside Conference Room 4, where Indigenous Peoples Organisations (IPOs), Forum members, UN agencies and States were discussing the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Mr Isa, the co-founder and General Secretary of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), was asked for his identification document by UN security and was then asked to leave the UN premises, without being given any explanation, despite his asking for a reason.[27][28]

Despite efforts by the UNPO and the Society for Threatened Peoples, under which Mr Isa and his fellow human rights activist Omer Kanat were accredited as participants in the Forum, Mr Isa was not able to re-enter the building. Two days after the incident, on 28 April, he was denied a badge to be able to re-enter the UN and participate in the Forum.[29]

Detention by police in Italy[edit]

On 26 July 2017, Dolkun Isa was approached by 15-20 plainclothes members of the Divisione Investigazioni Generali e Operazioni Speciali (DIGOS) while walking with colleagues to the Italian Senate. The officers, who were holding a photo of Isa, stopped him at the gate of the senate building and asked him to accompany them for an identification check, Isa said. the officers loaded him into a car and took him to a nearby police station. The DIGOS police checked Isa's ID, took his photo and fingerprints, and eventually released him after 3:00 p.m.[30] [31]

Prevention from UN forum[edit]

On Monday, April 16, 2018, Mr. Isa was prevented from entering the UN premises to participate in the first day of the Forum. When asked for an explanation, UN security was unable to elaborate further on the justification for the refusal, citing 'security concerns' once more. said UNPO. Mr. Isa remarked that "This represents a clear signal of the success of China's attempts to manipulate the UN system. I am incredibly disappointed and appalled that the UN has been undermined to this extent."[32]

Removal of Interpol Red Notice[edit]

On 20 February 2018 Interpol removed Red Notice alert for Dolkun Isa[33] which was issued for him nearly two decades ago, The London-based rights group Fair Trials also confirmed that Interpol deleted a wanted alert, known as a red notice, for Dolkun Isa, who is currently the president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress.[34] Dolkun Isa told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington that his case, which was closed last month after nearly two decades, demonstrates the need for countries and international policing mechanisms to reject efforts by authoritarian governments to target dissidents abroad.[35]

The fact that Mr. Isa's noticed originated from China, and that INTERPOL removed it, is also good news for those who have wondered about the effect of INTERPOL's new president Meng Hongweion the organization's decision-making process, some observers believed that his position was more ceremonial and less influential over Red Notice issuance. The decision in Mr. Isa's case demonstrates that the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL's Files has both the willingness and the autonomy to issue decisions contrary to the desire of the Chinese government, irrespective of the organization's leadership.[36]

Chinese accusation in UN[edit]

On 21 May, 2018, during the resumed session of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations in UN, the Chinese delegation Yao Shaojun claimed that Isa had been "participating, inciting and funding separatism and terrorism for years", adding that while participating in regional dialogues at UNPFII he had indicated that he was "representing WUC instead of STP", despite only having accreditation as an STP representative. "All the above actions seriously violates relevant rules and regulations of the United Nations," the letter said, urging the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations "to uphold the authority of the U.N. Charter and withdraw the consultative status of STP".[37]

Kelley Currie, the U.S. representative to the U.N. for economic and social affairs, accused Beijing of preventing the exiled Uighur activist Dolkun Isa from entering U.N. headquarters in New York to speak at a forum on indigenous rights last month. Beijing demanded that the U.N.-accredited organization that invited Isa to speak at the United Nations, the Society for Threatened Peoples, be stripped of its accreditation. The United States sprung to Isa's defense, saying China was seeking to retaliate against an irritating advocate who has shed light on political repression against the Uighurs. The United States and Germany maintain that there is no evidence of links between the two groups.[38]

Death of Isa's mother[edit]

On 29 June, 2018, Radio Free Asia reported that Isa's mother died while in detention at a "political re-education camp" in northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), according to security officials.[39] In June 2018, Isa learned from a close family friend that his mother, Ayhan Memet, died on May 17 at the age of 78, but the WUC president was unsure if she had been incarcerated in one of the many "political re-education camps" throughout the XUAR, where authorities have been detaining Uyghurs accused of harboring "extremist" and "politically incorrect" thoughts since April 2017.[40]


  1. ^ "About DOLKUN ISA". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  2. ^ "UNPO's XIII General Assembly". Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  3. ^ "DOLKUN ISA". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  4. ^ "UNPO's XIII General Assembly". Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  5. ^ "DOLKUN ISA". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Introduction for DOLKUN ISA WUC". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Why did the NIA bar Dolkun Isa?". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  8. ^ "South Korean detention of Uyghur activist Dolkun Isa raises concern over Chinese influence on peaceful Uyghur activities". Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ "STATEMENT OF MR: DOLKUN ISA". Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ "Chinese Uighur exile urges Olympic boycott over 'genocide'". Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ "Why did the NIA bar Dolkun Isa?". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  12. ^ "Wu explains Kadeer 'ban'". Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  13. ^ "Dolkun Isa met with Binali Yıldırım in Munich". 16 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Dolkun Isa met with PM of Turkey". 16 February 2018.
  15. ^ "Dolkun Isa European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights by UNPO". 15 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Dolkun Isa European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights". 15 May 2018.
  17. ^ "East Turkestan: Dolkun Isa Detained in South Korea". Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  18. ^ "Dolkun Isa, Secretary General of World Uighur Congress denied entry to South Korea". Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  19. ^ "Response to Dolkun Isa's Arrest in South Korea". Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  20. ^ "South Korea holding Uighur activist at airport". Retrieved 2 October 2007.
  21. ^ "Dolkun Isa: UNPO Issues Letter to MEPs". Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  22. ^ "South Korea: Dolkun Isa release welcome but authorities should not have denied him entry". Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "China's Masood Azhar veto: India questions UN panel's secrecy - Times of India".
  25. ^ Roy, Shubhajit (23 April 2016). "China's Masood Azhar snub: India issues visa to rebel Uyghur leader on Beijing blacklist". The Indian Express. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  26. ^ "Red faces in Govt, Uighur leader Dolkun Isa's visa cancelled after Chinese protests". 26 April 2016.
  27. ^ "Uyghur Human Rights Activist Expelled from UNPFII". 8 May 2017.
  28. ^ "United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues urged to respect participant's freedom of expression". 8 May 2017.
  29. ^ "China's Rights Abuses Infect UN". 23 May 2017.
  30. ^ "Police in Italy Detain Uyghur Exile Group Leader at China's Behest". 28 July 2017.
  31. ^ "Exiled Uighur group condemns Italy's detention of its general secretary". 28 July 2017.
  32. ^ "Dolkun Isa Prevented from Participating in UN Forum". 28 July 2017.
  33. ^ "China upset as Interpol removes wanted alert for exiled Uighur leader". 24 February 2018.
  34. ^ "Interpol Removes Wanted Alert for Dolkun Isa". 26 February 2018.
  35. ^ "Exiled Uyghur Leader Says 'Red Notice' Demonstrates China's Harassment of Critics Abroad". 7 March 2018.
  36. ^ "INTERPOL and China- time is telling for Red Notices". 5 March 2018.
  37. ^ "US Rejects China's Request For UN to Cut Ties With NGO Linked to Exiled Uyghur Leader". 22 March 2018.
  38. ^ "U.S. Once Jailed Uighurs, Now Defends Them at U.N." 25 March 2018.
  39. ^ "Dolkun Isa's mother Ayhan Memet died in reeducation camp". 29 June 2018.
  40. ^ "Uyghur Exile Group Leader's Mother Died in Xinjiang Detention Center". 2 July 2018.