China: after the Václav Havel Prize, imprisoned citizen-journalist Ilham Tohti awarded the Sakharov Prize

Three weeks after being awarded the Council of Europe’s Václav Havel Prize, citizen-journalist Ilham Tohti, currently serving a life sentence in China, received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize.

Ilham Tohti, 50, an Uyghur citizen-journalist and academic currently serving a life sentence in China, was awarded the European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought  on October 24th. This follows the awarding by the Council of Europe on September 30th of the  Václav Havel Human Rights Prize.

“These two prestigious awards are a well-deserved recognition of Ilham Tohti’s contribution to journalism and freedom of the press in China” said Cédric Alviani, the head of Reporters Without Border (RSF) East Asia Bureau, who once again urges the Beijing regime to “immediately release Tohti and all other journalists and bloggers.”

In 2006, Tohti founded Uyghurbiz, an Uyghur-related news website aimed at promoting peaceful dialogue between different communities in China’s Xinjiang province. He was arrested on a charge of “separatism” and sentenced to life in prison in 2014.

Tohti was awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in 2014, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2016. 

China is the largest prison in the world for journalists, with at least 119 detainees, and ranks 177th out of 180 countries and territories in the RSF World Press Freedom Index 2019.

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Updated on 25.10.2019