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.
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.