Appointment of UHRP Board Chair Nury Turkel to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

For immediate release

May 26, 2020 1:16 pm EST

Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) (202) 790-1795, (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project welcomes Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s appointment of UHRP Board Chair Nury Turkel to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). USCIRF is a leading voice in the global fight to defend religious freedom.

“Speaker Pelosi’s appointment of a Uyghur American to USCIRF sends an important message. Nury’s work as a Commissioner will be a symbol of Uyghur Americans’ whole-hearted embrace of democratic values and religious freedom for all,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. 

“Nury has been an outstanding voice calling for global action to end the mass atrocities committed against Uyghurs in our homeland, East Turkistan,” Kanat continued. Mr. Turkel was a co-founder of UHRP in 2003, and has served as Board Chair since 2018.

In his capacity as Board Chair of UHRP, Mr. Turkel has recently testified before Congress on Forced Labor, Mass Internment, and Social Control in Xinjiang and China’s Repression and Internment of Uyghurs.

Mr. Turkel will fill the vacancy created by the expiration of the term of Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee. “It is an honor for a Uyghur American to take up a position previously filled by Professor Dorjee, whose homeland is Tibet,” said Kanat.

UHRP thanks Dr. Dorjee for his dedication to ending religious persecution around the world, including the moral clarity of his statement in the USCIRF 2020 Annual Report, when he declared, “The time is now for serious multilateral government and global policy actions to end ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious’ religious freedom and human rights violations in China, including in Tibet and Xinjiang.”

UHRP also applauds USCIRF for releasing translations of its 2020 report on China in  Uyghur, Tibetan, and Chinese. “To publish documentation of the suffering of our people in our own language is to give hope to all Uyghurs in the global diaspora,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. 

UHRP has documented the complete or partial destruction of over 100 significant mosques in East Turkistan, and the persecution and detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims on grounds such as “prays daily,” “possesses religious knowledge” and has “a religious atmosphere in the home.”  

USCIRF's announcement of the appointment of Commissioner Turkel can be found here

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