A prominent Uyghur human rights activist, singer and interpreter was among dozens of activists honored at a reception at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to recognize British contributions to humanitarian efforts around the world.
King Charles III expressed his gratitude to Rahima Mahmut, founder and executive director of Stop Uyghur Genocide and the U.K. director of the World Uyghur Congress, for her work defending Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in China.
The king said called work “a crucial undertaking” and thanked her for “the exceptional contributions you are making to this important endeavor,” Mahmut later told Radio free Asia.
On her LinkedIn account, Mahmut said she was “thrilled and honored” to be representing the Uyghur community at the humanitarian reception.
A native of Ghulja, or Yining, in Xinjiang, Mahmut decided to leave her homeland because of the massacre of Uyghur youth who had taken to the streets on Feb. 5, 1997, to protest the Chinese government’s discriminating policies against the predominantly Muslim people.
Mahmut has long been a vocal critic of the Chinese government, taking aim at the mass incarceration, surveillance and persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and countering Beijing’s official propaganda from overseas.
For more than two decades, she also has used her artistic talent as a singer to make the Uyghur voice known through music, while drawing the attention of the international community to the crisis in Xinjiang.
Mahmut, who has lived in the United Kingdom since 2000, has performed Uyghur songs at major concerts and cultural festivals in Britain, across Europe and in the United States.
“As an [sic] Uyghur human rights activist, I have built a cross-party, cross-community coalition of UK-based activists working to end the genocide in my homeland,” Mahmut says on her LinkedIn profile, adding that she has been involved in high-profile parliamentary campaigns, including the Genocide Amendment to the U.K. Trade Bill, Parliament’s recognition of the Uyghur genocide, and the diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Also in attendance at the reception were Saleh Saeed, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee — a U.K. organization that brings together 15 top domestic aid charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently for overseas crises — British actress and activist Dame Joanna Lumley, actor and comedian Sir Michael Palin, and actor and director Adrian Lester, who all have launched appeals for the nonprofit.