Jailed Uighur awarded with top European rights award


A jailed Uighur academic and a group from Balkans were jointly awarded with a top European human rights prize on Monday.

Uighur economist Ilham Tohti and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) — a group formed to help postwar reconciliation in the Balkans — were jointly awarded with 2019 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, said the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in a Twitter post.

Tohti, former lecturer at a Beijing university, was arrested in January 2014 and handed a life sentence by the Chinese authorities for allegedly promoting “separatism”.

Enver Can of the Ilham Tohti Initiative received the prize on behalf of Tohti.

“Today’s prize honours one person, but it also recognises a whole population in giving the entire #Uyghur people a voice,” Can was quoted in the tweet of PACE.

China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 13 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

Up to one million people, or about seven percent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to U.S. officials and UN experts.

Ivan Djuric received the award on behalf of YIHR.

“Don’t play deaf to the sound of war drums from the Balkans,” he warned in his speech quoted by PACE.
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