Rebiya Kadeer gave the keynote address for the Oslo Freedom Forum 2010. Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer revealed the plight of her people under the repressive Chinese government. Like the Tibetans, the Uyghurs are living in an open prison, forced to abandon their culture, subjected to torture, imprisonment, and execution for speaking out. According to Ms. Kadeer, indifference is not an option. At great personal expense, she fights on behalf of mothers whose children are being tortured, wives who are afraid to ask where their husbands are, and a youth that is not allowed to speak its own language.


Kadeer is a prominent Uyghur business leader, political activist, women’s rights advocate, and humanitarian. Born into a poor family, Kadeer rose to become one of China’s most successful – and socially-minded – entrepreneurs. She coupled her economic prowess with philanthropy to provide not only jobs, but also extensive vocational training and education for Uyghurs; in 1997, Kadeer started the “Thousand Mothers Movement" to promote job training for Uyghur women. At first encouraged and celebrated by the government, Kadeer and her activism became an inconvenience as state oppression of the Uyghurs intensified. In August of 1999, after denouncing government violations of her people’s rights, she was charged with “providing secret information to foreigners," tried in secret, and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. She was incarcerated for more than five years in a region where prison conditions are notoriously harsh, spending two of those years in solitary confinement. Called the “Mother of the Uyghur nation," she is a champion of human rights and a courageous adversary of the Chinese government’s systematic oppression. Kadeer was awarded the Rafto Prize in 2004. In 2009, she published Dragon Fighter: One Woman’s Epic Struggle for Peace with China. Kadeer is the president of the World Uyghur Congress and currently lives in exile in the United States.