By Isabel Marques da Silva, Laura Ruiz Trullols • last updated: 19/12/2019 Euronews
The Uyghur economist and human rights activist Ilham Tohti is this year’s Sakharov Prize winner for dedicating his life to the fight for the rights of China’s Muslim minority. In prison for the past 5 years, he won’t be able to collect it. Euronews interviewed his daughter, Jewher Ilham.
“The last time I was able to talk to my father was 2014 over Skype and that was the day before he was arrested. The last time I heard about my father was 2017. End of the 2017 I believe it was the last time a lawyer was allowed to visit my father. My father drafted his own appeal to the court by himself but it got rejected and I believe that the court didn’t even read his appeal,” explains Jewher lham.
Secret Chinese documents have recently revealed the inner workings of Muslim detention camps in the Xinjiang region. Beijing claims they are vocational centers but the leaks reveal that they are designed to be run like prisons.
“A lot of those, people who are locked up in camps, are university scholars, professors, intellectuals, singers, soccer players, comedians. And those people they don’t need a job training.
Euronews asked whether there are torture practices.
“I believe so. I have interviewed some of the camp survivors and they have all testified and stated they had been through similar torture, like pulling the nails, shaving hair, denied from food, beaten and fed with drugs.
Jewher Ilham calls on the EU to take action:
“There are many concrete steps that European countries could take, as the US government has done in the past. Put visa sanctions restrictions on government officials, Chinese government officials who support the camps. And this is very helpful. Also putting sanctions on those companies, Chinese companies or Western companies that support or import products from the concentration camps.”