Courtesy Nury Turkel

Nury Turkel and I are Uyghurs, part of the majority-Muslim ethnic group that is currently facing what many human-rights groups are starting to recognize as a full-scale genocide at the hands of China’s communist leadership. With millions of our people being herded into concentration camps—where women are sterilized or raped, and others suffer torture and experimentation—or forced into industrial slavery in China’s factories, we have lost everything dear to us.

As a U.S.-educated attorney, Nury has worked tirelessly to build the Uyghur human-rights movement, representing 150 Uyghur political refugees to win asylum in the U.S. and bringing the plight of our people to the world’s attention. He is the first Uyghur American to serve on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, appointed by Nancy Pelosi in May, helping shape U.S. and global policy responses to the crisis. Nury is a leader on the global stage, fighting for universal human dignity and helping keep hope alive for the Uyghur people.

Isa is president of the World Uyghur Congress

More Must-Reads from TIME