President Bush praises Rebiya Kadeer as a human rights defender
  • Tue, 06/05/2007 - 12:00

(President George Bush and Ms. Rebiya Kadeer)

For immediate release
June 5, 2007, 3:15 EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 349 1496

In a speech delivered in Prague on June 5 at a conference on democracy and security, President George W. Bush praised the Uyghur leader and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rebiya Kadeer, citing her as an individual who has struggled for freedom, democracy and human rights in the face of tyranny. President and Mrs. Bush also met privately with Ms. Kadeer at the conference.

In his speech, President Bush voiced support for the “forces of conscience that undermine repressive societies, saying “people living in tyranny need to know they are not forgotten. He called on “every nation that stifles dissent to end its repression, trust its people, and grant its citizens the freedom they deserve. He expressed strong reservations about China’s policy of carrying out economic reforms without opening its political system.

The President spoke about dissidents and democratic activists around the world whose calls for greater human rights have been brutally repressed, including Ms. Kadeer, as well as Alexander Kozulin of Belarus, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, Oscar Elias Biscet of Cuba, Father Nguyen Van Ly of Vietnam, and Ayman Nour of Egypt. He specifically criticized the imprisonment of Ms. Kadeer’s two sons in China.

“Another dissident I will meet with here is Rebiya Kadeer of China, whose sons have been jailed in what we believe is an act of retaliation for her human rights activities. The talent of men and women like Rebiya is the greatest resource of their nations -- far more valuable than the weapons of their army or oil under the ground. So America calls on every nation that stifles dissent to end its repression, trust its people, and grant its citizens the freedom they deserve.

Ablikim Abdureyim, one of Ms. Kadeer’s sons, was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of “secessionism in April, after a trial in which he was not provided with legal representation. In November of last year, Alim Abdureyim, Ms. Kadeer’s youngest son, was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of tax evasion. Both sons have reportedly been subjected to torture and other physical abuse. The Uyghur American Association calls upon the government of the People’s Republic of China to release Ablikim and Alim immediately.

Ms. Kadeer has been working to improve human rights conditions in East Turkistan (also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) since her release from a Chinese prison in March 2005. She was imprisoned in 1999 after attempting to meet with a group of U.S. Congress staff members to talk about Uyghur human rights issues, and originally fell into disfavor with the central government after using her position as a delegate to a national government body to call for an end to the repression of Uyghurs in East Turkistan.

The full text of President Bush’s speech may be found here.

Audio - Bush speech on Rebiya Kadeer