Welcome to USCIRF

Nury Turkel, Commissioner

Nury Turkel is a lawyer and Uyghur rights advocate. He holds a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Juris Doctorate from the American University in Washington, DC, and specializes in regulatory compliance, federal investigation and enforcement, anti-bribery, aviation, legislative advocacy, and immigration. In addition to his professional career, Turkel has devoted his time and energy to promoting Uyghur human rights and supporting American and universal democratic norms. He is the first U.S.-educated Uyghur lawyer.

He was born in a re-education camp at the height of the Cultural Revolution and spent the first several months of his life in captivity with his mother. He came to the United States in 1995 as a student and was granted asylum in 1998.

Turkel is currently a Washington, D.C.-based attorney and Chairman of the Board for the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), which he co-founded in 2003. He also served as the president of the Uyghur American Association, where he led efforts to raise the profile of the Uyghur people in the United States, including organizing and leading the campaign to obtain the release of a Uyghur prisoner of conscience, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, in March 2005.

Turkel has published policy-oriented commentaries in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Independent, and Foreign Policy. He has testified before Congress, speaking about Uyghur camps and advocating a legislative response to China’s atrocities. Many of his recommendations have been incorporated into pending bills in Congress. Since early 2017, Turkel has spoken at numerous policy forums, academic institutes, and human rights conferences, regarding the mass internment of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in China. He has appeared on major media outlets including CNN, BBC, Fox News, Al Jazeera, Australian ABC, Sky News, France 24, and TRT World.

He has engaged in policy and legislative advocacy in the European Union and the Australian Parliament. He served as a legal and policy adviser to the past and present presidents of the World Uyghur Congress (WUD), an organization that serves as an umbrella organization for Uyghur community and advocacy groups promoting universal human rights.

Turkel successfully represented and provided legal assistance to WUC’s current president, Dolkun Isa, to restore his travel privileges to the United States and removal of his name from Interpol’s Red Notice list. He has also assisted Uyghur refugees in the United States, Europe, and Turkey. Specifically, he has successfully represented over 150 Uyghur political refugees with their asylum applications in the United States.