UHRP Applauds EU’s Decision to Award Ilham Tohti Sakharov Prize

For immediate release
October 25, 2019 9:30 am EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920

The Uyghur Human Rights Project applauds the decision to award Ilham Tohti the European Union’s top human rights award, the Sakharov Prize.  UHRP calls for his immediate and unconditional release from his unjust imprisonment. 

A respected professor at Nationalities University, Ilham Tohti worked for mutual understanding between Han Chinese and Uyghur people, and for the Chinese government to respect Uyghur rights by following their own constitution and laws.  He was sentenced to life in prison in 2014 on spurious separatism charges.  Seven of his students were also sentenced, and nothing is known of their well-being. 

“This prize is well deserved,” said UHRP Director Omer Kanat. “Ilham Tohti devoted his life to the peaceful pursuit of Uyghur rights and for understanding between Han and Uyghur people. For that he has paid a severe price. This award helps give hope to Uyghurs that their plight is not being ignored.”

Last month Ilham Tohti was awarded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Council of Europe. 

“These two prestigious prizes pave the way for concrete action by the EU and European governments,” added Mr. Kanat. UHRP continues to call on governments to impose sanctions and other consequences for the Chinese government’s human rights crimes against the Uyghur people.