East Turkestan: From Unknown to Nobel Nominee
Kadeer, 58, an ethnic Uighur jailed for more than five years in China for providing state secrets to foreigners before her exile, won a Rafto Prize for human rights in Norway in 2004 and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year.
"Rebiya Kadeer champions the rights of western
"Kadeer has also used her resources as founder and director of a large trading company in northwestern
This year's winner is due to be announced in
Four Rafto laureates have gone on to win the Nobel prize. Only 12 women have won since 1901, upsetting many feminists.
The director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, said in 2001 the committee should "sooner rather than later" speak out about the lack of democratic rights in
Kadeer, a one-time laundress, was little known outside
"Rebiya has undisputed legitimacy and the capacity of uniting Uighurs in exile," said Nicholas Bequelin, a
Kadeer, president of the Uighur American Association, is tipped to be elected president of the World Uighur Congress in October, a source close to her said.
Her biography in German, "A Woman's Struggle against the Dragon," will be published next year.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the nomination but denounced Kadeer for "frequently engaging in anti-Chinese splittist activities."
"This kind of person is not qualified to represent Chinese Uighurs," the ministry spokesman's office said in a statement.
But human rights groups say
Kadeer was once a member of the top advisory body to
Her assets were worth 270 million yuan ($33.8 million) at the time of her arrest but her trading firm and other businesses in real estate are now almost bankrupt due to official harassment.
She said two of her sons were beaten up by Chinese police when they were detained in June and accused of tax evasion. The whereabouts of a third son who faces subversion charges are unknown and a daughter has been put under house arrest.
"Wang Lequan rushed to arrest my sons but
Kadeer pledged to champion the rights of Uighur women and children at any cost, lamenting that many girls ended up working as prostitutes in Chinese cities and boys became thieves or pickpockets.
"I'm ready to pay the price," she said. "The more the Chinese government tries to destroy me, the more respect and influence I will have from my people."