Renown Uyghur Human Rights Activist Involved in Accident
On January 6 Rebiya Kadeer, the Uyghur business woman, human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience, was involved in a mysterious traffic accident where her car was rammed twice by heavy utility truck. The 2004 Rafto laureate managed to get out of her vehicle when the driver in the truck seemed to be preparing for a third hit. After a week in hospital, she is now slowly recovering.
- My mother is tough. She wants to get out all the time, so my father and I have to do our best to keep her indoors; says Akida Rouzi, the daughter of Rebyia Kadeer.
The Rafto Foundation interviewed Akida Rouzi over the phone on January 24. Ms. Rouzi told that her mother suffered from a broken bone in her spine, and had to wear a neck-support collar.
The accident happened when Kadeer and her secretary was driving home from the office at the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation. A heavy utility truck smashed into Kadeer's car. Kadeer tried to get out of the car when the truck hit for the second time. This time, she suffered a severe blow to her head. When the truck seemed to be backing up, preparing for a third strike, Kadeer managed to crawl out, and the unknown driver stopped, jumped out and ran away.
- Police are investigating. We all are suspicious that it is some thing bigger than a hit and run. But we can't really judge without any proof. When the police found the car's owner he told them that his car was at his friends, who told the police that the car was parked in his yard. Then he realizes that the car was stolen. Surprisingly no one noticed for 4 days that the car was missing. Some thing in the story just did not click. But I could be wrong, says Akida Rouzi.
It is a known fact that the Chinese authorities are becoming increasingly
more annoyed with Rebyia Kadeer's activities. In August 2005 Rebiya Kadeer
was accused by the Chinese authorities of planning terrorist attacks in Xinjiang.
The accusations came after she gave testimonies at hearings in the US Congress,
telling about the sweeping extent of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur
Autonomous Region, China. She continues to speak about Uyghur rights, although
she was given a strict warning upon her release from Chinese prison in March
2005. She was told by the Chinese that her children in Xinjiang would be «finished»
if she got involved in promoting Uyghur rights. When President Bush visited
China last year, the Chinese asked him to stop Kadeer's activities in the
U.S. The answer from President Bush was negative.
The 2004 Rafto Prize for Human Rights was awarded to Rebiya Kadeer from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), the People's Republic of China. Kadeer is prominent symbol of the Uighurs' struggle for basic human rights. The Uighurs count eight million people and constitute half of the population in Xinjiang. They are a Turkic speaking people and primarily Muslim. Although Xinjiang was given the status of autonomous region in 1955, millions of Chinese immigrants have been sent to the region and Uyghurs are being systematically marginalized in the social, economic and cultural fields.
Source: The Rafto Foundation