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People hold up signs for Uyghur rights. Credit: ChinaAid

Rights Prize Awarded to Uyghur Scholar

Oct. 25, 2019

MIDLAND, Texas, Oct. 25, 2019 /Christian Newswire/ -- Ilham Tohti, an imprisoned Uyghur scholar, won the European Parliament's top human rights prize yesterday. The Parliament urged China to release him.

Tohti advocated against the persecution of Uyghurs, a people group living in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. He would often criticize the government's treatment of the group.

In 2014, after he criticized the government's response to a car bombing, officials arrested him on separatist charges. As evidence, they cited his interviews with foreign media outlets, criticism of government ethnic policies, and his website, Uighurbiz.net.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 2014.

Yesterday, the European Parliament awarded Tohti its 2019 Sakharov Prize, claiming he "has worked tirelessly to foster dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and other Chinese people" and that he "remains a voice of moderation and reconciliation in spite of what he has suffered."

The European Parliament then pressed China to free Tohti, according to its president, David Sassoli.

Now, China is placing Uyghurs and other minority people in internment camps.

"ChinaAid is pleased that the European Parliament awarded its 2019 Sakharov Award to the persecuted Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti," ChinaAid President Bob Fu said. "The Chinese regime's unprecedented brutality against peaceful Uyghurs, such as Ilham Tohti, and other religious minorities in the Xinjiang region has been recognized by the broad international community. Now, people of conscience from all faiths, including those in Muslim countries, need to hold Beijing accountable. We need to demand the Chinese communist regime immediately dismantle all internment camps and release each of the 1-3 million innocent lives inside of them."

Notes to the Editor
China claims that the internment camps are vocational centers, but many camp survivors reported suffering torture and starvation. Those who pledge allegiance to the Communist Party are given preferential treatment.

The United Nations has estimated 1 million people are in these camps, but some experts place the number as high as 3 million.

Uyghurs are a traditionally Muslim Turkic group living in Xinjiang.

China often polices Uyghur life by ordering them to not ask if food is halal, forbidding them from wearing Muslim clothing, jailing them for traveling abroad, etc.


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