According to information received from the Chinese government, the warden of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) Women’s Prison ordered the release of Rebiya Kadeer on medical parole on March 17, 2005. Ms. Kadeer’s family members have indicated that she had recently been receiving treatment in a prison hospital for a heart condition. Soon after her release, she boarded a United Airlines flight in Beijing and, accompanied by an official of the US government, departed for medical treatment in the United States. She is expected to arrive in Washington, DC later this evening.
Rebiya Kadeer, 58 years old, is a member of Xinjiang’s predominantly Muslim majority Uyghur ethnic group. She has made significant contributions to women’s rights, in recognition of which she was appointed to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) and the XUAR People’s Congress. She also served as a delegate to the 1995 United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing. The director of a large and successful trading company, she founded the “Thousand Mothers Movement” in 1997 in an effort to promote job training and employment for Uyghur women.
On August 11, 1999, Rebiya Kadeer was detained on her way to a meeting with members of a delegation of American congressional staff. On March 10, 2000, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court sentenced her to eight years’ imprisonment for “illegally providing state intelligence abroad.”
On March 3, 2004, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court granted Rebiya Kadeer a one-year sentence reduction, citing her good behavior in prison. At that time, sources in the Chinese government informed Dui Hua that Rebiya Kadeer would be considered for additional sentence reductions or parole if she continued to demonstrate “genuine repentance and willingness to reform.”
In light of the circumstances surrounding Rebiya Kadeer’s imprisonment, resolution of her case has been a high priority for the United States government. Members of Congress have lobbied the Chinese government for her release, writing letters to senior Chinese officials and passing resolutions. Rebiya Kadeer’s case has been one of the highest priorities of the State Department’s dialogue with China on human rights, and American ambassador Clark Randt, Jr. has frequently mentioned Rebiya Kadeer by name in his public speeches on US-China relations.
The Dui Hua Foundation welcomes the Chinese government’s humanitarian decision to release Rebiya Kadeer so that she may receive medical treatment. We wish her a speedy recovery and a happy reunion with her family in the United States.
The Dui Hua Foundation
San Francisco, California
March 17, 2005