Uyghur Activist Dies in Turkey After 10 Years of Statelessness: Denied Pension by China, Citizenship Rejected by Turkey

Aisha Yasin

Tursun Uyghur, April 22, 2024

Aisha Yasin, a respected advocate in the Uyghur community in Turkey known for her patriotic activism and service to her people, passed away on April 15, 2024, in Istanbul at the age of 53.

Born in Urumqi in 1971, Aisha Yasin began her journey as a driver after studying at the 20th Middle School in Urumqi. She worked as a city bus driver on Urumqi’s Second Bus Line before immigrating to Turkey with her family in 2014 and settling in Istanbul. A devoted mother of two daughters, Aisha continued her dedication to her community in Turkey, raising awareness about Uyghur human rights, organizing women and girls, and offering guidance to the youth.

During her battle with illness, the Uyghur academic Burhan Seyit Ulughyol launched a social media appeal for assistance. Within a week, the global Uyghur community rallied together, raising over 1 million Turkish lira in support. Burhan Ulughyol remarked, “Within just 3-4 days, over 1 million lira was raised. Then Aisha herself called me and asked to stop the fundraising appeal, meaning our people will never forget anyone who dedicatedly serves for the homeland, our religion, and our  nation.”

But the financial aid was too late to treat her, as a Turkish doctor told the family.

Despite living in Turkey for over a decade, Aisha Yasin was unable to obtain Turkish citizenship, as noted by Uyghur activist Abduweli Ayup on Twitter. Additionally, the Chinese government refused to provide her with pension or medical insurance coverage, highlighting the same challenges faced by Uyghurs who have worked their whole lives in China and are scared to go back after the Chinese started the genocidal campaign.

Aisha Yasin’s passing is mourned by the wider Uyghur community in Turkey and beyond.

Amine Sedef, another Uyghur woman activist based in Istanbul and friend of Aisha, told Uyghur Times: ‘Her legacy of activism and selfless service will continue to inspire future generations of Uyghurs striving for justice and freedom.’

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