Ekpar Asat is an entrepreneur, businessman, philanthropist, and bridge-builder. He is a brother and a son. He was praised as a model citizen by the Chinese government.
Five years ago, he was forcibly disappeared into the Chinese government's prison camps, and held in solitary confinement
Ekpar Asat is an amazing brother, friend, and son. Professionally, he is a Uyghur philanthropist and cutting-edge entrepreneur who became a household name among Uyghurs after establishing and successfully running a multifaceted media platform for our community in western China. He was compassionate and committed to the vulnerable, helping children with disabilities and the elderly and providing children access to education. He worked tirelessly to build bridges between all ethnic groups in the region and the government. Before the camps, the Xinjiang government itself extolled him as a bright star in the tech world and a positive force for humanity. Soon, his reputation landed him international recognition as a successful, innovative entrepreneur and peace-builder.
But in April 2016, Ekpar was forcibly disappeared within weeks of returning from the United States on a premier exchange program—unlike the Han members of his IVLP cohort, who returned to their ordinary lives. He went through the same exchange program that has turned out world leaders like Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and Antonio Guterres. He, too, should be leading his organization and entrepreneurial ventures with his message of peace and collaboration. But he was targeted by the Chinese government precisely because of his professional success — a leader in his own right, yet born into the wrong ethnicity, one which did not belong to a pure nation-race subservient to the ruling administration.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EKPAR
"Ms. Asat said the accusation of ethnic hatred was absurd. She pointed to state-run news reports that featured her brother’s business or his participation in government-sponsored events. 'They always said he was a bridge builder between the ethnic minorities and the majority Han.'"
"During the short three-minute video conversation in late January 2021, he told his family members that his health was declining both physically and mentally. His family confirmed that he had lost significant weight and that he looked pale with lots of black spots on his face."
"Yesterday, I spoke to Rayhan Asat, whose brother Ekpar is one of the more than one million Uyghur people who have been detained in Xinjiang. Before his detention, Ekpar was held up as a model citizen, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist dedicated to helping older people and people with disabilities. In the latest video Ekpar’s family has seen, he looks gaunt – a shadow of his former self. He is just one of many victims of the atrocities in Xinjiang."
"When we met up during his time in the US, he promised to bring my parents to watch me become the first Uyghur graduate of Harvard Law School. But this hope disappeared with him into the shadows of the internment camps as soon as he returned to China. At my graduation, his seat remained empty."
"'I'm here to protect my brother. He's not just nobody. You know, he has a sister who loves him so much, that would fight for him every day.'"
"Rayhan wants people to know that her brother has lived his entire life seeking to build bridges and foster peace, both at home and internationally. When Ekpar came to the United States for the State Department program, he was proud to represent a diverse China and the Uyghur people. He is her best dance partner. Always kind and thoughtful, he would bring her flowers whenever he greeted her at an airport. The next time she meets Ekpar, she plans to bring flowers for him."
"'Mr. Asat was selected for the [State Department] program due to his work cultivating cross-cultural ties between ethnic groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China and the government in the Uyghur region," the lawmakers wrote."
"Ekpar Asat, a Uyghur entrepreneur and philanthropist, was convicted in a secret trial on charges of 'inciting ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination' and sentenced to 15 years in prison. No contact has been made with him for more than four years and, without official information about his whereabouts, there are grave concerns for Ekpar Asat’s condition and wellbeing."
"Like Mr. Asat, most of us travelled to the United States to further our education and training as leaders. We returned safely to our families in our home countries. We are devastated that Mr. Asat did not. We are deeply disturbed by the arbitrary nature of his detention, secret trial, and the lack of any basic sense of justice."
"Since learning of Ekpar’s 'conviction,' Rayhan has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about his ordeal, driven by her unconditional love for him, writing articles and testifying in legislative hearings. 'I am no longer alone. People are saying his name. Fighting for him just makes me love him more.'”
"More than 70 student organisations from six Harvard schools signed an open letter urging the US state department to take stronger action in advocating for an alumnus of its prestigious International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP).
"I am sharing my brother’s story, a story of courage, to send a message to my Harvard and fellow Harvardians. Many of you will be shapers and movers of our society. Your words carry weight. Therefore, I ask you: Join the fight, be the light, be the integrity, be the voice for my brother, and my people. Because you are my people too."
"Once portrayed in a positive light in the Chinese media, Ekpar Asat was later accused of 'inciting ethnic hatred' after his return to China. 'My brother's case should speak well to the fact that even model citizens once held by the government as such are not spared.'"
"Ekpar Asat is a Chinese Uyghur entrepreneur, philanthropist, and app developer who went missing in 2016. Asat developed a social media platform for Uyghurs in China called Bagdax, with over 100,000 users. ... In early 2020, the Chinese Embassy in Washington informed Senator Coons that Asat was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of inciting ethnic discrimination and ethnic hatred. Trial records are not available, and it is unknown if Asat received due process. Asat is being held in solitary confinement in Aksu prison camp."
HOW TO HELP
Join us in commemorating Ekpar on the 5th anniversary of his disappearance at Harvard University. The event is co-sponsored by Harvard Law Advocates, Human Rights Foundation, Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, Jewish Movement for Uyghur Freedom, The Trebuc. Harvard Jewish Law Students Association, and Berkley Center for News Media.