We were in Strasbourg in December 2019 when Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur Professor sentenced to a life sentence for expressing his opinions, received the Sakharov Prize. By giving the Sakharov Prize to a Uyghur intellectual, the Parliament sent a strong signal to the world. It was a courageous move as it clearly underlined the dreadful situation of the oppressed citizens of all origins in China.
We now urge the Parliament to award this year’s prize to Jimmy Lai, who is now in jail too, for having tried to protect the right to a free press in a free society. We all know how brutal and swift the crushing of any kind of dissent has been in Hong Kong in 2020. Numerous young activists, trade union members, lawyers, students have been arrested and sentenced to jail in 2021. Giving the Prize to Jimmy Lai will be a renewal of the strong message to the Chinese regime which has more and more openly violated the Universal values. Jimmy Lai is the Founder of the Apple Daily tabloid and a fierce critic of Beijing. The media tycoon has refused to leave Hong Kong in spite of the pressure increasing around him and his staff. He has been sentenced to 14 months in prison after being found guilty of “unauthorized assembly”. The truth is Jimmy Lai has always been a fierce critic of the Chinese Communist Party. That is his real “crime”.
Giving the Prize to Jimmy Lai will also be a very much needed signal to the entire population of Hong Kong, who is reeling under the newly imposed National Security Law. The progress of the Chinese totalitarian is terrifying and must not be allowed to continue thus.
How should the European Parliament respond to such brazen disrespect of the most obvious rights: freedom of speech, of thought, of self-determination? Calls for a constructive dialogue with a totalitarian regime requires resilience, and strength from all democratic countries and institutions. Great human beings have already renounced their freedom and even their life in this long-lasting fight. Liu Xiaobo, who, in spite his Nobel Peace Prize, died without being released from prison in 2017, Ilham Tohti (SERVING LIFETIME) and now Jimmy Lai is in jail. They have clearly demonstrated how far they would go to protect the world from the spreading of a ruthless regime.
It is more than time for the world to stand by these courageous people. Please give the Sakharov Prize to Jimmy Lai and prevent this last bastion of light in China from turning to darkness!
This act will be a blessing for the future of (CHINA,) Southeast Asia, and the world.
Thank you for your consideration!
Contacts: English, Enver Can: +491738912048
Chinese, Marie Holzman: + 33630809281
Ilham Tohti Initiative