Nury Turkel

WGL 2021-Nury Turkel
Courtesy of Dan Taylor/Human Rights Foundation
  • Title
  • Affiliation
    U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Nury Turkel’s mother gave birth to him in a reeducation camp during China’s Cultural Revolution—an experience that gave him an early education in systematic oppression. Since the U.S. granted him asylum in 1998, Turkel has made a name for himself as a prominent human rights leader. His work centers on the treatment of the Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in his birthplace: Xinjiang, China. He works as the chairman of the board for the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) in Washington, D.C., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed him last year as a commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. He has pushed Congress to ban imports of cotton, textiles, and other goods from Xinjiang until China ends what rights activists say is sweeping internment, forced labor, and cultural genocide of the indigenous population. Beijing has repeatedly denied allegations of forced labor and other human rights abuses in Xinjiang, decrying them as baseless, and authorities and state media have dismissed Turkel and the UHRP as puppets of American China-haters. But Turkel continues to make a potent case, calling on American companies, in particular, to reorganize their supply chains and cut ties with the region. “U.S. companies must step up,” he wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed. “Moving beyond due diligence is the only right thing to do.”