The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in collaboration with the Ilham Tohti Initiative (ITI) and ChinaChange.org, will convene a conference at the European Parliament entitled “Ilham Tohti and the Sakharov prize: Courage in the Face of Brutality”. Hosted by Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP (ALDE) and with the participation of Ilham Tohti’s daughter, Jewher Ilham, as key speaker, the event will aim to draw attention to Sakharov Prize nominee Ilham Tohti’s peaceful activism and his unjust imprisonment. The conference will also raise awareness of the increasingly suppressive policies implemented by the Chinese government on the Uyghur people.
Renowned Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti recently received the nomination for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, thanks to his peaceful advocacy for dialogue between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. In 2014, Tohti was imprisoned in Beijing without a fair trial, and is currently serving a life sentence in prison on false charged of “separatism”, following the creation of his website Uyghurbiz, or Uyghur Online. Tohti has for years been focusing his research and advocacy on building bridges between Han Chinese and China’s Muslim Uyghur minority, calling for strictly peaceful debate – not violence – among students, scholars, and others, and always in accordance with Chinese laws. His case has been attracting an increasing amount of attention from the international community, culminating in his nomination for the Sakharov Prize; deservedly bringing Tohti’s struggle for peace and the plight of the oppressed Uyghur peoples in the spotlight.
Against this background, this conference will be hosting some high-level panellists including Ilham Tohti’s own daughter, Jewher Ilham. The event aims to bring together Members of the European Parliament, academics, human rights experts, politicians and members of the Uyghur diaspora to discuss Ilham Tohti’s peaceful advocacy and why it should be rewarded.