China: RSF demands the release of Uyghur citizen journalist, 2019 Václav Havel Prize Laureate

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes the awarding of the 2019 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Council of Europe to Uyghur citizen journalist Ilham Tohti, serving a life sentence in China, and demands his immediate release.

Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur citizen journalist and academic currently serving a life sentence in China for separatism, was awarded on Monday September 30th the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Council of Europe, together with the Serbian association Youth Initiative for Human Rights.

"This prestigious award, which honors human rights defenders, is a due recognition of Ilham Tohti's efforts to maintain free-flow of information in his community, despite Beijing’s shutdown efforts," said Cédric Alviani, head of Reporters Without Border (RSF) East Asia Bureau, who calls for "the immediate release of Ilham Tohti and all other journalists and bloggers jailed by the Chinese regime.”

Sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014, Tohti is the founder of the website Uyghurbiz, a media outlet aiming to promote a peaceful dialogue between the communities of the Chinese province of Xinjiang. Tohti has already received two awards in the field of human rights, the PEN / Barbara Goldsmith Award in 2014 and the Martin Ennal Award in 2016.

China is the largest prison in the world for journalists, with at least 115 detainees, and ranks 177th out of 180 countries and territories in the RSF World Press Freedom Ranking 2019.

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Updated on 01.10.2019