: After Her Rise in China and Expulsion, a Uighur Becomes the Face of Her PeopleBy
: ERIK ECKHOLM Published in
: The New York TimesDate of issue
8 July 2009People/entities mentioned in this item:
As the global face of resistance to what she calls the worsening Chinese repression of the Uighurs, Rebiya Kadeer is displaying the tenacity and sense of destiny that drove her improbable climb inside China in decades past, from laundry girl to famed business mogul.
The Beijing government that hailed her as a model citizen in the 1990s, before imprisoning her for stealing state secrets and sending her into exile in the United States in 2005, vilifies her as the unseen hand behind protests that erupted Sunday in the Uighur homeland of western China.
“All the difficulties in my life prepared me for the tough times we face now,” said the woman, who is happy to be called the “Mother of the Uighurs,” in an interview on Tuesday.
In a plain wool suit and a traditional Uighur cap topping waist-length pigtails, Ms. Kadeer, 62, veered from impish humor and warmth — she leapt to pump the hand of a reporter who described visiting her childhood town — to intense, hand-waving condemnations of Chinese perfidy.