Who is Tahir imin Uyghurian?

Tahir Imin Uighurian

Tahir Imin is an Uyghur activist, political scientist, former political prisoner, founder of United News Network and Uyghur Times, and the president of Uyghur Intellectuals Association. He currently manages the Uyghur Culture Project and International Uyghurology information Center.

Early Life and Childhood:

Tahir was born in Ujmerik (Mulberry Brook), Poskam County, Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, on December 28, 1981. As a teenager, he attended an underground Madrasa (religious school) in Kashagar that was banned by the Chinese government.

Family background :

His father Iminniyaz Amatniyaz (1959-2016) owned a transportation business.

He lost his mother, Marry Tohti,  to lung disease in 1989, when he was only eight years old.  He has one younger brother from the same parents,  Adil (born in 1982), who is now a father of three children. His father married  his stepmother, Tuhan Memet (born in 1974), who gave birth to Tahir’s half-brother Tursun and half-sister Medinur.

His brother Adil and his stepmother 10 years in prison due to Tahir’s activism and their association with him.


Early activism:

Despite his outstanding performance in school, Tahir quit high school in 1994 due to family reasons.  Instead he went to study Arabic and religion in a Madrasa (underground Islamic religious schools banned by the Chinese government) in Khaqiliq and Hotan. There he studied classical Arabic, literature Tafsir and Hadis.

In 1996, he returned to Poskam to serve as a young religious teacher and activist.  After the police discovered his teaching center on October 26,1998, he became wanted by the police and he had to escape Poskam.  He came to Urumqi to study English in  Xinjiang University until July 17, 2000,  when the police caught up with him, arrested him and returned him to Poskam.

He spent 7 months in a detention house with horrid conditions just for studying and teaching Islamic knowledges.

He was ill and urgently needed to leave the horrid conditions of the detention house. He was released on March 5, 2001 after his family spent a fortune to secure his release.

Life as teacher and writer (2002-2005)

Tahir published his first book “English-Uyghur Maxims”  (Xinjiang People’s Publishing House) in 2002.  He came to Urumqi to work as an English teacher in 2003 in Ultash Language Training Center and a writer for Uyghur literary magazine of Tengritagh.


Prison (2005-2007)

In 2005, Tahir was arrested and imprisoned again for his activism for the Uyghur culture.  He wrote an article titled “The Uyghur Culture in Danger” that discusses the situation Uyghur culture faces, and the Chinese government felt threatened by his calls to save the Uyghur culture. As a result, he was arrested sentenced to two years in prison(2005-2007).

His life in prison was nothing short of a nightmare.  He spent 14 months in Urumqi Tianshan district detention house (乌鲁木齐天山看守所)in a tiny dark cell crammed with dozens of people.

He was then transferred to and spent 10 months in Xihu Drug rehab and Labor Re-education Camp (新疆西湖戒毒劳教所), a prison publicly known as drug treatment center but in reality houses many political prisoners. The conditions were even worse there.  Along with around 120 inmates, he was forced to study communist propaganda for 2 hours and work as a hard labor for 10 hours each day. Food provided was minimal, barely enough to keep him alive. The living conditions were abhorring and the prison guards abusive. Tahir’s life there was full of  hunger, pain, torture and terror.

Business and Cultural Activism  (2008-2016)

Business Life

1-Tarim Translation Agency and Uyghur Studies

After Tahir was released from prison, he started his translation business, “Tarim Translation Agency”, in Urumqi and continued to advocate for the Uyghur culture.  During this period, he translated many academic works and historical documents about Uyghur people.

Tahir also aimed to build a connection between the Uyghur people and other Turkic cultures.   For example, Tahir was the first to introduce Turkish TV series to the Uyghur society by translating prominent Turkish TV series, such as “Aci Hayat: Bitter life “,” Elif “, “Aşkımızda ölüm var:love and death “Norther,Kuzey Rüzgarı”.  The Uyghur audience found a new cultural influence from these Turkish series and have a new option as an entertainment, breaking the monopoly of Chinese TV series and entertainments in the Uyghur regions.

2-CEO of Xinjiang Ozturk International (2011-2015)

Tahir successfully ran a silk, attires, and real estate company and continued to use his prominence as a business leader to help his people.   One of his achievements of this time is the “Uyghur Female Graduate Prize”, a scholarship for Uyghur women Tahir planned and launched to encourage Uyghur women to pursue higher education.

3-Founder of Xinjiang Ottuz Oghul Business Investment Co, Ltd.

As an investor and entrepreneur, Tahir launched and invested in businesses promoting elements of Uyghur culture.  The most prominent ones are Dorigar Health Products, first Uyghur traditional medicine chain store, and Toqquz Qiz, a fashion design startup .

Study in Israel (Feb20, 2017)

On February 20, 2017, Tahir was forced to leave his beloved homeland due to the increasingly oppressive political environment in the Uyghur homeland. The newly appointed Chinese Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, initiated a Strike Hard Campaign that systematically targeted the Uyghurs.  Just three months after Tahir left,  the Chinese authorities started the large-scale campaign on Uyghurs by mass detention.

Tahir chose to study in Israel where, he studied Hebrew in the Ulpan program. In Israel, Tahir continued to promote the Uyghur cause.  He made a survey and conducted research on Uyghur awareness in Israel and studied the human rights issues by comparisons between the Palestinians  and Uyghurs.

In July 2017, Chinese authorities asked him to return to China. He refused and chose to come to the United States.

Life in United States (July 17,2017)


Tahir came to the U.S on July 17, 2027 on a tourist visa.

After he came to the U.S,  he received divorce paperwork from his wife, Hurriyet Omer,  who was in China. She was forced to divorce him due to the constant harassment of the Chinese government and police.   Since then he was not able to contact her or their child.

Subsequently, Tahir told his story to various media and newspapers, including Aljazzera and Atlantic, in order to expose China’s abuses of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.  Atlantic made documentary based on his experience and life.

The Chinese government, furious at Tahir’s exposure of their treatment of the Uyghurs,  sentenced his step-mother Tuhan Memet (50) and brother Adil Imin (35) each to 10 years in prison in retaliation.  Since then, more than 20 people in his family have been detained in either camps or prisons.  The whereabouts of more than twenty children left behind due to their parents’ arrests and their situation is still unknown.

Activism in the U.S. (2018)

1-Uyghur Times

Tahir founded Uyghur Times Uyghur edition in December 2017 to spread the news about the human rights abuses against Uyghurs and to mobilize the Uyghur community to speak up the atrocities they and their families have endured.

Now Uyghur Times covers news and reports facts on the Chinese genocide of Uyghurs in eight languages (Uyghur, Chinese, English, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese, German, French and Spanish). It is funded by the Uyghur diaspora and supported by over one hundred volunteers around the world.

2- Speaking to Media:

Tahir was interviewed more than thirty times by major media outlets, such as New York Times, Aljazeera, Atlantic, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, Financial Times, and Vox .

3-Focus on Uyghur Genocide Group:

Tahir built a group for international journalists to share and  translate information and facts about the Uyghur crisis.

So far, the group’s members are from different major media outlets around the world and have benefited from the information, contact and first-hand materials Tahir and his team provided.


Tahir has been speaking about Uyghur issue in many universities, think tanks, mosques, churches across the U.S.  and has been giving interviews to major media outlets. Below are some of the lectures and speeches he had given:

1- “Terrorist Babies in China’s Isolated Camps”; Columbia Law School,  2018

2- “China’s war on Uyghurs”; George Washington University, Elliot School,2019.

3- “Uyghur Crisis”: Towson University, 2019

4- “Politicized Education: Uyghur language policy of China”; Drexel University ,2017

His lecture topics include:

China’s threat to the U.S. security through the Uyghur Genocide

Uyghur crisis and Uyghur genocide

Uyghur culture

Uyghur identity

Analysis on Uyghur movements

Psychology and methods of CCP’s control and management system

How to cope with Chinese challenges

5-Public Speaking:

Tahir has given speeches more than forty times at rallies, mosques, churches, and universities across the U.S since 2018

Activism in Uyghur homeland (2008-2016)

Uyghur Doppa Cultural Festival                                            Since 2009

Founder and organizer. The Uyghur Doppa Cultural Festival is an event that promotes and preserves Uyghur culture by promoting doppa, a distinct element in the Uyghur culture. Doppa is a traditional Uyghur hat that serves as one of the symbols of Uyghur culture and identity. This has become an extremely popular cultural event among Uyghur youths in their homeland, in China and abroad. The Festival urges people to proudly wear their traditional Uyghur clothing and doppa on national and religious holidays.

Uyghur Knowledge Forum                                                              Since 2011

Organizer. The forum is a platform for scholars to give public lectures on academic and social issues of Uyghurs. The forum invited more than thirty scholars to give public lectures on various scientific topic each year for over four years.

Postgraduate Woman Prize                                                            Since 2012

Sponsor. Tahir started the Postgraduate Woman Prize when he served as CEO of Ozturk International to promote the education and equal opportunity of minority women.

Nine Women Initiative                                                                     Since 2014

Organizer. The initiative seeks to promote the higher education of Uyghur women by facilitating the exchange of experiences and dialogue among women and by providing business startup training to women.

6-Education :

UC Berkley School Of Law, Human Rights Center, USA

Certificate of completing Open source investigations training (May 17, 2020)


Northern Virginia Community College, VA, USA

Political Science, 2018

Haifa University, Haifa, Israel

Ulpan Hebrew Language Program, Spring 2017

Xinjiang University, Urumqi, China

University Degree in Uyghur Literature and Language, 2012

Xinjiang Agricultural University, Urumqi, China

Associate Degree in English, 2009-2012

(Self-teaching education system)

Xinjiang Intilish language Center

Translation in Turkish, 2009

Qarghiliq and Hotan Religious Madrasa

Arabic Language Training, 1994-1997


Uyghur, native proficiency

Chinese, native proficiency

English, fluent

Turkish, fluent

Arabic, fluent


Academic works:


Translations :

1-Over 200 News reports from authoritative media outlets, iuighur.com and uighurtimes.com

2-Uyghur Translation of Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (2019), United States Congress

3—Role of Uyghur languages on Economic Relations of China with Central Asian Countries, Local Conference in Urumqi, 2013

4- Over 100 International documents on Uyghurs :

5-Selected speeches of US president Barack Obama: English –Uighur version

(30 speeches)

6-Full translation of Sahihul Muslim, one of highly acclaimed six major hadith collections in Sunni Islam in to modern Uyghur language. E-book version (2009)


1-Reconstruction of Kashgar Old City and Its Influence on Traditional Uyghur Housing Culture, Xinjiang university Graduate Thesis, 2012

2-English Learning Upsurge Among Uyghur Youth, Tengritagh Literature Magazine, 2004

3-English-Uyghur Maxims, (Book, Xinjiang People’s Publishing House, 2002

4-Uyghur Cultural course -Questions and answers (2010)

5- (2016) International Political documents on Uyghur (2019)

6-Academic Paper: Uighurs’ experiences under CCP’s colonization: the case of Uighur genocide

Op-eds :

1-Guardian: China has destroyed Uighur families, including mine. Guterres must act

2-Epoch Times: Epoch Times: China Has Been Telling Lies About the Concentration Camps

3-Bitterwinter: “Uyghur Scholars” Defend the CCP—Really?

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