For Immediate Release 12:00 (CET)
Date: 18 December 2020
Contact: Enver Can,; +49-1738912048

The Ilham Tohti Initiative reiterates its applaud on the first anniversary of awarding Prof. Ilham Tohti with the Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament, but at the same time calls the European Union to  turn its criticism into action on the human rights issue in its relations with the People’s Republic of China in light of the current deteriorating situation in the Uyghur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang (XUAR).

Ilham Tohti, Professor at the Minzu University of Beijing, who advocated ethnic harmony and implementation of Autonomy Laws, was sentenced to life in prison after two days of show-trial on charges of separatism, 23th of September 2014. The Beijing regime wanted to silence the Uyghur scholar behind the bars, but Prof. Tohti and his ideas are now better known by the world community than ever before. Thus Mr. Tohti, also called the ‘Mandela of the Uyghur people’ by some Chinese intellectuals, has won at least 8 international human rights and freedom awards during the last 6 years. Among them the Sakharov Award for ‘Freedom of Thought’ is the most prestigious. He was also a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize since 2018 and one of the five finalists in 2020. Prof. Ilham Tohti is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2021.

Prof. Ilham Tohti is known to be kept in Urumchi Prison Number One against Chinese law though he is a resident of Beijing. His family has not been able to visit him for the last 5 years.

Thus, Ms. Margarete Bause, human rights speaker of the Greens at the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) of Germany, draws attention to the importance of honoring Mr. Tohti with the Sakharov Prize last year and describes the Award as a clear signal to the leaders in Beijing to stop the inhumane treatment of Uyghur people and other minorities. She says: ‘But one year after his daughter had received the award for him, Tohti is still in Chinese prison. We don’t know anything about his current condition. His family still has no contact with him. His fate is symptomatic of the oppression of the entire Uyghur population in China. And it shows in a dramatic way how unscrupulous Beijing is sticking to its inhuman policies. The German government must finally do more than express its concern. An important lever would be, for example, to enforce the ban on forced labor in the EU-China investment agreement.’

Mr. Enver Can, President of the Ilham Tohti Initiative, points out the dramatically worsening human rights situation of the Uyghur people and adds: ‘It is time for the EU to speak a common language and take concrete action to stop the current Chinese policy of genocide against Uyghur people. The member states of the European Union should act together to hold the perpetrators of the Uyghur genocide accountable for their crimes.’


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