You were on the run for 21 years. The "red notice" issued against you was only rescinded in 2018. How does it feel to live under a state of emergency for two decades? Is Germany now a safe haven for you?

Isa: The "red notice" – that the Chinese government wrongly issued against me – was found to be politically motivated and without evidence. It made my life difficult and insecure. There were several close calls, such as when I was detained in South Korea and was at risk of being deported to China, due to the red notice. It also prevented me from engaging in a lot of my human rights work, as I had visas cancelled at the last moment and was also briefly detained in Italy while entering the Senate, due to the red notice. It was thanks to the German government that I was not deported from China and I, along with the Uighur community in Germany, am very grateful to the German government for giving us a safe haven! If it were not for Germany I could have been forcibly returned to China and killed or "disappeared".

While we are deeply grateful for the German government’s efforts to protect Uighur residents and citizens, life in Germany and around the world has become increasingly insecure recently. Chinese influence around the world is growing and, even in Germany, the Uighur diaspora is being monitored and harassed by the Chinese government. At our demonstrations they take photos of the protestors and send them back to China. If we speak out in Germany our relatives are detained or punished. I have already lost both of my parents under mysterious circumstances over the past two years and my brothers are still missing.

Recently, Chinese propaganda has been attacking the World Uighur Congress and me directly, while describing the exterior of our headquarters in Munich in an apparent attempt to intimidate us. I was even physically assaulted at a funeral service in Munich in January 2020 by relatives of the CCP official who live in Germany. They demanded that I stop denouncing their relative and made veiled threats towards my family still in China, before trying to physically assault me. In conclusion, while we are deeply thankful to the German government, China’s long arm and constant harassment is causing Uighurs not feel to safe anywhere in the world!

More on this topic