Tohti wins EU’s Sakharov Prize for defending Uighurs


The European Parliament on Thursday awarded Ilham Tohti, who is fighting for the rights of Uighurs, with EU’s Sakharov Prize.

“Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority, is the winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2019,” the European Parliament said in a statement.

European Parliament President David Sassoli said Tohti has dedicated his life to advocating for the rights of the Uighur minority in China.

“Despite being a voice of moderation and reconciliation, he was sentenced to life in prison following a show trial in 2014.

“By awarding this prize, we strongly urge the Chinese government to release Tohti and we call for the respect of minority rights in China,” Sassoli was quoted as saying in the statement.

China is accused of carrying out repressive policies against the Uighur, a Turkic Muslim group, and restraining their religious, commercial and cultural rights.

The prize, consisting of a certificate and €50,000 ($55,640), will be awarded during a ceremony in the Parliament in Strasbourg on Dec.18.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named in honor of the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded annually since 1988 to individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms, according to the statement.

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