- Title: File footage of Uighur activist and EU freedom prize laureate Ilham Tohti
- Date: 18th December 2019
- Summary: BEIJING, CHINA (FILE - JULY 2013) (REUTERS) UIGHUR SCHOLAR ILHAM TOHTI SEATED AT TABLE LOOKING AT PHONE TOHTI'S FACE
- Embargoed: 1st January 2020 04:19
- Keywords: Chinese jail EU EU prize Ilham Tohti Tohti Uighurs Uyghur Xinjiang camps
- Location: BEIJING, URUMQI, XINJIANG AUTONOMOUS REGION, CHINA
- City: BEIJING, URUMQI, XINJIANG AUTONOMOUS REGION, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice
- Reuters ID: LVA001BAI3T53
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: AUDIO QUALITY AS INCOMING
Jailed Uighur activist Ilham Tohti is set to be awarded a European Parliament annual prize for the defense of human rights on Wednesday (December 18).
Economics professor Tohti, who is currently serving a life sentence in China on separatism charges, is set to receive his award in absentia at a ceremony in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The ceremony is likely to further anger Beijing which in October this year called Tohti a criminal and a terrorist when the news of the award was first announced. The European Parliament chose Tohti for his activity to foster dialogue between Chinese people and the mostly Muslim Uighur minority who live in China's western region of Xinjiang.
Tohti, an ethnic Uighur, has criticized the government for not giving Xinjiang and its Turkic-speaking Uighurs more autonomy, but had always sought to work inside the system. He had taught at Beijing's Minzu University, which specializes in ethnic minority studies.
China has said Xinjiang faces a threat from Islamist militants and separatists. It rejects all accusations of mistreatment and denies mass internment, saying it is simply seeking to end extremism and violence in Xinjiang through education, and that it is offering Uighurs better employment prospects with vocational training.
The EU parliament's prize, named after the late Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded annually since 1988 to honor individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. Li Fangping, the lawyer who represented Tohti at his trial in 2014, told Reuters earlier this year, he hoped the prize could give his former client some peace.
(Production: Martin Pollard)
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