Oct 10, 2016

European Parliament Conference: Ilham Tohti and the Sakharov Prize: Courage in the Face of Brutality

10 October 2016 | 15:30 to 17:30
European Parliament, Brussels | Room A5G-1

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.


Conference Program

Opening remarks

Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP (ALDE), the leading MEP who nominated Ilham Tohti for the Sakharov Prize

Marino Busdachin, UNPO General Secretary


Moderator: Enver Can, Ilham Tohti Initiative


The life and the work of Ilham Tohti

Ms Yaxue Cao, Co-founder and Chief Editor of chinachange.org, USA


The situation in Xinjiang and Ilham Tohti’s recommendations

Ingrid Widiardo,  www.uigurkultur.com, Germany


What is the Ilham Tohti Initiative?

Prof Marie Holzman, Co-founder of the Ilham Tohti Initiative, France


Why does Ilham Tohti matter?

Prof Elliot Sperling, Associate Professor at Indiana University, USA


Chinese new counter terrorism law: Impacts and dangers on Uyghurs and Tibetans

Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director of the International Campaign for Tibet, Belgium


Guest of Honor:


Jewher Ilham, daughter of Ilham Tohti\


To download the program please click here.