In 1997 Rebiya Kadeer founded the “Thousand Mothers Movement” to promote job training and employment for Uyghur women. Kadeer also established evening schools for Uyghurs who did not have the opportunity to go to ordinary school. Kadeer’s humanistic message is “It is our moral obligation to help the ones in need, and we must leave no one behind”.
Kadeer has paid a high price for criticizing China’s long-standing repression of the Uyghurs. She was arrested in August 1999 and sentenced in March 2000 to eight year’s imprisonment. This sentence was later reduced by one year following a secret trial, where neither she nor her lawyer had the opportunity to argue her case.
Following her release in March 2005, Kadeer was elected as the president of the World Uyghur Congress. Kadeer continues to champion the rights of the Uyghur people from exile in the US.