Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Surface Against Dolkun Isa and Nury Turkel in Human Rights Community

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Ivan Holt
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 Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Surface Against Dolkun Isa and Nury Turkel in Human Rights Community

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Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Surface Against Dolkun Isa and Nury Turkel in Human Rights Community
#sexualassault #WUC #DorikunElsa #Metoo
In a shocking revelation, prominent human rights activists Dolkun Isa and Nury Turkel have been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct, raising serious concerns within the human rights advocacy community. These allegations, if proven true, could tarnish the reputations of key figures in the fight for Uyghur rights and highlight a broader issue of sexual misconduct in the sector.
Dolkun Isa: President of World Uyghur Congress Accused
Esma Gün, a Turkish-Belgian university student, has come forward with allegations against Dolkun Isa, the president of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC). In February 2021, Gün, then 22, received inappropriate messages from Isa, who was 53 at the time. Screenshots of their conversation, reviewed by NOTUS, reveal Isa making unwanted advances. Despite Gün's attempts to change the subject, Isa persisted, expressing a desire to kiss her and suggesting they meet privately.
Gün did not report the incidents to WUC, fearing it would undermine the organization's mission. "I didn’t want people to know their leader is someone like this," she explained. However, the emotional toll led her to eventually quit activism altogether.
Two other women, speaking anonymously, have also accused Isa of making unprofessional sexual advances. Before the publication of this report, Isa declined to comment on these allegations but issued a public apology on X (formerly Twitter), acknowledging "serious errors of judgement" and expressing deep regret for his actions.
Nury Turkel: Allegations at Oslo Freedom Forum
Nury Turkel, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and a prominent Uyghur advocate, is also facing allegations. According to sources, concerns about Turkel's behavior were raised at the Oslo Freedom Forum. Julie Millsap, a contractor with the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), learned of these complaints in 2022. Millsap, who had a personal relationship with Turkel, confronted him about the allegations, which he dismissed as misunderstandings.
Despite Turkel’s denials, concerns persisted. Millsap reported these issues internally at UHRP, only to face pushback. In October 2023, UHRP initiated an investigation, which concluded there was no basis for the allegations. However, the investigation acknowledged that Turkel had acted inappropriately in a social setting in 2019.
Broader Implications: A Culture of Silence
The allegations against Isa and Turkel are part of a larger pattern of sexual misconduct within the human rights community. Interviews with 19 women involved in human rights activism revealed a culture where powerful men can act without consequence. Many women fear retaliation or believe that reporting misconduct would harm their careers and the causes they support.
Some organizations, like the Human Rights Foundation and the Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC), have begun addressing these issues by establishing internal committees and clear reporting mechanisms. However, many smaller or newly established groups lack the resources and procedures to handle such allegations effectively.
Call for Accountability
Whistleblowers like Millsap argue that human rights organizations must adopt thorough whistleblower policies and ensure multiple levels of accountability. This includes providing external avenues for reporting misconduct to avoid internal biases and potential retaliation.
Grant-making bodies, such as the National Endowment for Democracy, also play a crucial role. By tying funding to the implementation of robust misconduct policies, these organizations can drive meaningful change in the human rights sector.
The revelations about Isa and Turkel underscore the urgent need for a cultural shift in the human rights community. It is imperative that these organizations prioritize the safety and well-being of all activists, ensuring that those who fight for justice are not themselves victims of injustice.
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