Dolkun Isa is a former student-leader of the pro-democracy demonstrations at Xinjiang University in 1988. He founded the Students’ Science and Culture Union at the university in 1987 and worked on programs to eliminate illiteracy and to promote science and to lead other students in East Turkestan. He was then dismissed from university but completed his physics degree via independent study, and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Politics and Sociology from Gazi University in Turkey and a degree in Computer Science in Munich, Germany. After enduring persecution from the Chinese government, Isa fled China in 1994 and sought asylum in Europe, and became a citizen of Germany in 2006.
Dolkun Isa has consistently advocated for the rights of the Uyghur people and has raised the issue in the United Nations, the institutions of the European Union and in individual states. He has worked to mobilize the Uyghur diaspora community to collectively advocate for their rights and the rights of the Uyghur population in the Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. He was recognised for his efforts in raising awareness of the human rights situation facing the Uyghur people and for calling for greater democracy and freedom in China by receiving the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s Human Rights Award on 30 March 2016. In 2017, he was elected as the Vice-President of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), of which the World Uyghur Congress is a member. In this capacity, he works with other marginalised or unrepresented peoples to collectively strive for democracy, freedom and respect for basic human rights.