Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China by Rebiya Kadeer

For immediate release
April 23, 2009, 6:30 pm EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 349 1496

When I was a little girl, my father told me a fable that has accompanied me throughout my life and moves me deeply every time I remember it. My father said, “This is the fable of a little ant that lived in the wilderness. One day, the ant met a bird.
“‘Where are you going?’ asked the bird.
“‘I am going to the west,’ replied the ant and kept moving.
“‘How can you do that? There are high mountains and turbulent rivers along the way.’
“‘I can climb over the mountains and swim through the rivers.’
“‘But you will certainly be killed.’
“‘Even if a large wave should come along, I can find a piece of wood and cling to it,’ replied the ant, and kept walking.

Thus begins the book Dragon Fighter: One Woman’s Epic Struggle for Peace with China by Rebiya Kadeer (Kales Press: April 2009). The book reveals a tale of personal tragedy, triumph over adversity, persistence in the face of repression, and determined struggle for freedom, human rights and democracy as a leader of millions of Uyghurs. As reviewed in today’s New York Times. Dragon Fighter is about speaking truth to power. It details Ms. Kadeer’s exceptional life as a self-made millionaire and philanthropist turned political prisoner and later exiled activist; against the backdrop of decades of tumultuous political and social changes in East Turkestan, it also chronicles the experiences of the Uyghur population under the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Dragon Fighter tells how Ms. Kadeer’s early life was marked by the Chinese government’s persecution of her father and the forced relocation of her family, as well as the public humiliation sessions she endured as a young mother during the Cultural Revolution. The book reveals how throughout her life, even as Ms. Kadeer endured her own hardships, she reached out to help others who were in trouble, sometimes at great personal risk. She remained devoted to her 11 children even while first struggling to survive and later facing the challenges of leading a non-traditional life as a remarkable businesswoman and humanitarian.

From her humble beginnings, Ms. Kadeer’s entrepreneurial skills and tenacity led her to create a trading empire and amass a wealth unrivaled by any Uyghur or any woman in the People’s Republic of China. Having learned early on about the power of money to bring about change, she used much of her fortune on philanthropic endeavors and helped other Uyghurs to establish their own businesses. CCP officials lauded her as a “model minority”, but Ms. Kadeer chose to use the political positions she was given not to extol the virtues of the Communist Party, but to call for an improvement in the lives of Uyghurs. Her advocacy work and criticism of Chinese government policy failures in East Turkestan ultimately led to her arrest and imprisonment. In Dragon Fighter, she tells of her own solitary confinement and abuse in a notorious Chinese prison and of being forced to watch other Uyghur prisoners being tortured and beaten.

Following Ms. Kadeer’s release to the United States in 2005, she ignored the warnings of Chinese officials to be silent about the human rights abuses taking place in East Turkestan. After establishing her own human rights foundation and assuming the presidency of both the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur American Association, she has traveled throughout the world to raise awareness about Uyghur human rights. However, as told in Dragon Fighter, her advocacy on behalf of Uyghurs has continued to come at great personal cost, with her children in East Turkestan held as virtual collateral and her activities in the United States subject to intense monitoring orchestrated by the Chinese government.

Ms. Kadeer’s incredible life story is about a woman who defies all odds in her efforts to succeed and her determination to tell the world about the suffering of the Uyghur people. Despite the Chinese government’s treatment of her and her family, and Chinese authorities’ dismantlement of her business empire, Ms. Kadeer has not lost her indomitable spirit. She remains steadfast in her commitment to the peaceful struggle for human rights and her belief that justice will ultimately prevail in East Turkestan. Ms. Kadeer’s courage and strength represent hope for the Uyghur people, who view her as their “spiritual mother”. It is this hope and this belief that sustain both Ms. Kadeer and the Uyghur people, and that remain out of the reach of the iron grip of the Chinese regime.

Dragon Fighter: One Woman’s Epic Struggle for Peace with China will be available in bookstores on April 27, and may be ordered online here.