Rebiya Kadeer

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Rebiya Kadeer
رابىيە قادىر
2nd President of the
World Uyghur Congress
In office
27 November 2006 – 12 November 2017
Preceded byErkin Alptekin
Succeeded byDolkun Isa
President of the Uyghur American Association
In office
Member of the 8th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference[1]
In office
March 1993 – March 1998
Personal details
Born (1946-11-15) 15 November 1946 (age 77)
Altay City, Altay Prefecture, Xinjiang, China
Political party Chinese Communist Party (expelled 1999)[2][3][4]
Spouse(s)Abdurehim Tohti (m. 1962, div. 1977),[5] Sidik Haji Rozi (m. 1981)
Children6 (with Abdurehim Tohti), 5 (with Sidik Rozi)
Residence(s)Virginia,[6] United States
OccupationPolitical activist
Known forFormer President of the World Uyghur Congress
(2006.11 – 2017.11)
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee (5 times)[7]
WebsiteWorld Uyghur Congress website

Rebiya Kadeer (Uyghur: رابىيە قادىر, romanizedRabiye Qadir; born 15 November 1946) is an ethnic Uyghur businesswoman and political activist. Born in Altay City, Xinjiang, Kadeer became a millionaire in the 1980s through her real estate holdings and ownership of a multinational conglomerate. Kadeer held various positions in the National People's Congress in Beijing and other political institutions before being arrested in 1999 for, according to Chinese state media, sending confidential internal reference reports to her husband, who worked in the United States as a pro-East Turkistan independence broadcaster. After she fled to the United States in 2005 on compassionate release, Kadeer assumed leadership positions in overseas Uyghur organizations such as the World Uyghur Congress.

Early life and career[edit]

Rebiya Kadeer was born in the city of Altay in Xinjiang. Along with her mother and siblings, she moved to Wensu County of Aksu to join her elder sister, who already lived there. In April 1962, she married her first husband, her sister's neighbor Abdurehim Tohti, after he pitied them and offered them accommodation.[5]

Family history[edit]

According to her autobiography, Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China, her family were descendants of migrants who moved across the Tianshan Mountains to Gulja, Merket was the hometown of her mother's father and Khotan was the hometown of her father's parents.[8]

According to her autobiography, 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.[9] 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.[10]

First marriage[edit]

Due to poverty, Rebiya had to enter her first marriage as a housewife and gave birth to 6 children from 1964 to 1976. 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."[11]


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 Mehmusa, a colleague of Rebiya's elder sister, for his activism. They moved to Ürümqi, having 5 children together.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

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 Uyghur children.[13]

As Chinese politician[edit]

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,[13] the National People's Congress and was a representative to the UN Fourth World Conference for Women in Beijing in 1995.[16] She was also a Communist Party member until she was expelled. 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. Kadeer wrote that her career was significantly affected by the 1997 Jiashi earthquakes, which were "one of the worst natural disasters that had occurred in the Uyghur nation in recent memory." One hundred villages and one thousand homes were leveled. Kadeer organized donations and aid for the area.[17]: 276–278 


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.[18] 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.[12]

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.[19] 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".[18] 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.[12] 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.[13][20] 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[21] and she claims that she was not tortured in prison because of her newfound international reputation.[12] 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[edit]

July 2008, Rebiya Kadeer met with George W. Bush in White House

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.[22] On 17 March, Kadeer flew to the U.S. and joined her family in Washington, D.C.

In November 2006, she became the president of the separatist World Uyghur Congress,[23] 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. Both were allegedly beaten and tortured in custody. 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.[24]

The Chinese government characterizes Kadeer as "an ironclad separatist colluding with terrorists and Islamic extremists."[6] In 2007 Kadeer expressed doubt about a police raid on a terrorist camp, reiterating her assertion that Uyghur organizations are not terrorist organizations, and instead fight peacefully.[25] On 5 June 2007, at a conference on democracy and security held in Prague, Kadeer met privately with President George W. Bush, who praised people like her for being "far more valuable than the weapons of their army or oil under the ground."[26] On 17 September 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed by a voice vote House Resolution 497,[27] 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.[28]

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.[17]: 273 

July 2009 riots[edit]

While the protests that preceded the July 2009 riots were ostensibly a response to the death of two Uighur workers in Guangdong, the Chinese government catapulted Kadeer into the limelight when it claimed the WUC, which she heads, had planned the riots.[29] Taiwan denied a visa to Kadeer in September 2009, alleging she had links to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is classed as a terrorist organization by the United Nations and USA.[30] Kadeer has denied the charges.[31]

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."[32] 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.[33] CCTV broadcast a video of interviews with the family members of Kadeer on 4 August.[34]

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".[15]

The 10 Conditions of Love[edit]

In 2009, Jeff Daniels[35] made a documentary film, The 10 Conditions of Love, about Kadeer. Its premiere was scheduled for the Melbourne International Film Festival, the organizers of which refused a request from the Chinese consulate in Melbourne for the film to be withdrawn and for Kadeer's invitation to the festival to be rescinded.[36][37] Several Chinese directors pulled out of the event. The festival website was hacked 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 denial-of-service attack forced it to shut down.[38][39]

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.[40] Wang Yi of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council opposed the film, saying it "beatifies the ethnic separatists" and sends "the wrong signals about terrorism and violence",[41] while the Chinese government warned the Kaoshiung city government not to "stir up trouble".[42] The website for the festival was also hacked.[43][44] It was later announced that the film would be shown at the film festival as originally planned,[45] but Kadeer's entry ban from Taiwan was extended by three years "based on security needs".[46]

Position on Chinese Uyghur independence[edit]

In 2011, Rebiya Kadeer accused the Chinese government of intentionally cultivating multiple Uyghur governments in exile in order to divide the Uyghur people. She believes that independence movements have less support in the international community and the given autonomy by Chinese laws were never implemented. She said that the Uyghur people were never happy under the Chinese rule.[47]

Appeal to Japan for support[edit]

On May 2012, while in Tokyo for a conference visit, Kadeer called on the Japanese government to raise with Beijing the subject of human rights violations in China.[48] She also visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine and reportedly expressed that she wanted to establish a similar place dedicated to Uyghur heroes in the future.[49]


  • with Cavelius, Alexandra (2008). Die Himmelsstürmerin: Chinas Staatsfeindin Nr. 1 erzählt aus ihrem Leben. Heyne. ISBN 978-3-453-64041-2. (German)

The bestseller, which has been translated into many languages, was written by the author Alexandra Cavelius on the basis of numerous interviews with Rebiya Kadeer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 中国人民政治协商会议第八届全国委员会. (in Chinese (China)). Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  2. ^ "Rebiya Kadeer: 'Han Chinese are also victims of CCP's brutal rule'". UHRP. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  3. ^ "The grandmother of all protesters". The Irish Times. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Holding the fate of families in its hands, China controls refugees abroad". Reuters. 30 December 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  5. ^ a b "热比娅的前夫自述:一个不忠的妻子、不合格的母亲新华网新疆频道". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  6. ^ a b Ford, Peter (9 July 2009). "Spiritual mother of Uighurs or terrorist?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  7. ^ "The Diplomat's Joseph Hammond spoke with Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer". The Diplomat. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  8. ^ Kadeer 2009, pp. 6–7.
  9. ^ Kadeer 2009, p. 9.
  10. ^ Kadeer 2009, p. 13.
  11. ^ Basu, Arin. "I Want to Make my Fights International: Rebiya Kadeer". Interview. Radio Free Asia. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  12. ^ a b c d Chu Miniter, Paulette (March 2007). "Taking a Stand for China's Uighurs". Far Eastern Economic Review (54).
  13. ^ a b c d "Profile: Rebiya Kadeer". BBC. 17 March 2005. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ a b Chan, Royston (8 September 2009). "China to demolish Kadeer buildings in restive Urumqi". Reuters. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  16. ^ China Frees Rebiya Kadeer. Radio Free Asia. 17 March 2005.
  17. ^ a b Kadeer, Rebiya (2009). Dragon Fighter One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China. Kales Press. p. 273. ISBN 978-0-9798456-1-1.
  18. ^ a b Dillon, Michael (2003). Xinjiang: China's Muslim Far Northwest. Psychology Press. pp. 82–83.
  19. ^ Dillon, Michael. "Uyghur separatism and nationalism in Xinjiang". In Cole, Benjamin (ed.). Conflict, Terrorism, and the Media in Asia. p. 114.
  20. ^ Millward (2007), p. 360.
  21. ^ Esposito; Voll; Bakar (2007), p. 208.
  22. ^ News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International . Amnesty International.
  23. ^ "Leadership of the World Uyghur Congress". Archived from the original on 17 October 2006. Retrieved 10 July 2005.
  24. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2007, US Department of State, 14 September 2007, accessed 28 September 2007
  25. ^ 热比娅:中国突袭东突营地令人怀疑. BBC News (in Chinese). 10 January 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  26. ^ President Bush Visits Prague, Czech Republic, Discusses Freedom. White House. 5 June 2007.
  27. ^ GovTrack: H. Res. 497: Text of Legislation.
  28. ^ House of Representatives calls on the PRC to release Rebiya Kadeer's children and Uyghur-Canadian Hu Archived 14 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine. ObserveChina. 18 September 2007.
  29. ^ "Civilians and armed police officer killed in NW China violence". Xinhua News. 5 July 2009. Archived from the original on 9 July 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  30. ^ "Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer denied entry visa to Taiwan". The China Post. Taiwan (ROC). 26 September 2009. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  31. ^ Wong, Edward (5 July 2009). "Riots in Western China Amid Ethnic Tension". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  32. ^ Branigan, Tania (3 August 2009). "China says Uighur leader's family condemn her". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  33. ^ AFP (3 August 2009). "Uighur leader's family 'blame her' for unrest: report". MSN. Archived from the original on 27 March 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  34. ^ "Family hopes Kadeer will listen to their appeals". China Central Television. 4 August 2009.
  35. ^ See details at IMDb
  36. ^ McGuirk, Rod (26 July 2009). Hackers put China flag on Australian film Web site. Associated Press.
  37. ^ Uighur premiere a sell-out in Australia. Agence France-Presse. 27 July 2009.
  38. ^ Hack attack hits Melbourne Film Festival –
  39. ^ Hackers attack Melbourne Film Festival website –
  40. ^ Chang, Maubo ( 22 September 2009). Documentary about Uighur political dissident shown in Kaohsiung. Central News Agency.
  41. ^ Only mainstream opinion welcome on cross-Strait relations: official Archived 2 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Xinhua. 22 September 2009.
  42. ^ Taiwan city screens film about Uighur activist Archived 15 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Associated Press, Jakarta Post
  43. ^ Child, Ben ( 22 September 2009). Chinese hackers strike again in protest over Uighur activist film. The Guardian.
  44. ^ Jia, Cui (22 September 2009). "Hacker attacks website over Kadeer film". China Daily.
  45. ^ Documentary on Kadeer will screen at film festival. Taipei Times. 28 September 2009.
  46. ^ Thor Halvorssen (17 August 2010). "Taiwan Fails to Learn From Its Own History". HuffPost. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  47. ^ "Interview: 'I Can't Say The Struggle Will Always Be Peaceful,' Says Uyghur Advocate Kadeer". Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. 27 February 2011.
  48. ^ "World Uyghur Congress In Tokyo Draws Condemnation From China". International Business Times. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  49. ^ Metcalfe, Joelle (24 June 2013). "Exiled Leader Sees More Pressure on Uighurs Under Xi". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 5 March 2023.
Additional References

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