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Ilham Tohti, Uyghur minority activist, 2019 Sakharov Prize

(B2 in Strasbourg) On Thursday (24 October), the European Parliament awarded the 2019 Sakharov Prize to Ilham Tohti, Uyghur human rights defender. A prize that he will probably not be able to receive in person, having been imprisoned since 2017

Ilham Tohti, 2019 Sakharov Prize (credit: European Parliament)

Imprisoned since 2014

Professor of economics and defender of the rights of the Uyghur minority in China, Ilham Tohti has been imprisoned since September 2014, sentenced to life imprisonment " following a two-day show trial » comments the Renew group, which had submitted its application. He is accused of separatism and Chinese authorities have not granted permission for his family to see him in prison since 2017. This award is a testament not only to the courage of Mr. Tohti himself, but also to the appalling treatment of Uyghurs in “re-education camps” » adds British MEP Phil Bennion. More than a million Uyghurs have been detained in these camps since 2017.

Appeal to the Chinese authorities

“By presenting this award, we call on the Chinese government to release Tohti and we call for respect for minority rights in China” said the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli. The prize will be officially awarded on December 18, during the plenary session in Strasbourg.


Emmanuelle Stroesser

A journalist for magazines and the press, Emmanuelle specializes in humanitarian issues, development, asylum and migration and human rights.