East Turkestan: Ilham Tohti Finalist for the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize
Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur scholar who has been serving a life sentence in Chinese prison since 2014, has been chosen as a finalist for the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize. Being a finalist for the prize, which honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights both in Europe and beyond, constitutes great recognition for his tireless work in raising the human rights concerns of the Uyghur people and for promoting peaceful interethnic dialogue in China. The UNPO is currently campaigning for Mr. Tohti to also be awarded the Sakharov Prize, awarded by the European Union to individuals and groups of people who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought. Such prizes are an excellent way in which the international community can continue to show support for the Uyghur people in the face some such hostile oppression by the Communist Party of the Republic of China.
Below is a press release issued by the Ilham Tohti Initiative:
The Ilham Tohti Initiative e.V. (ITI) hails the selection of imprisoned Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti as a finalist for the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize 2019. It was announced yesterday that the Selection Panel of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize 2019 has shortlisted Mr. Tohti along two other candidates for the Prize. Prof. Tohti was sentenced in September 2014 to life in prison following a two-day show trial. He remains a voice of moderation and reconciliation in spite of what has been done to him.
The news of the announcement was sent to Mr. Enver Can, the Chairman of the ITI, by Ms Liliane Maury Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Ms Pasquier, In her letter to Mr. Can says, “I have the pleasure to inform you that the Selection Panel of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2019 has shortlisted Mr Ilham Tohti, the candidature you put forward for the Prize”.
Mr. Can, on behalf of the Ilham Tohti Initiative e.V. has nominated Prof. Tohti to the Prize on April 29, with support of four other human rights activists and NGOs. The Ilham Tohti Initiative e.V. (ITI) is a non-profit organization based in Germany named after the renowned and unjustly imprisoned Uyghur academic and has the goal to promote Prof. Ilham Tohti’s ideas and to help to put them into reality.
The decision as to the Prize winner will be made by the Selection Panel on 29 September 2019, and its name will be announced in the Chamber of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, on 30 September 2019 at 12:30pm. The award ceremony for the Prize will subsequently take place in the presence of all three shortlisted candidates. Two other candidates, who have also been shortlisted are Mr Buzurgmehr Yorov (Tajikistan) and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights.
The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is an annual €60,000 award which honours ‘outstanding’ civil society action in defence of human rights, in Europe and beyond. Individuals, non-governmental organisations and institutions working to defend human rights anywhere in the world may be nominated. Four of the six winners to date were in detention because of their human rights activities at the time they received the prize.
The award was established in 2013 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation and is awarded in memory of Václav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. The prize’s laureate is selected, on the basis of nomination, by a seven-member international jury headed by the president of the Parliamentary Assembly.
Photo courtesy of Martin Ennals Award