Ilham Tohti, Uighur Scholar in Chinese Prison, Is Given Human Rights Award

The New York Times, 12 October 2016


By Nick Cumming-Bruce — Two years after the Chinese authorities sentenced the prominent Uighur intellectual Ilham Tohti to life imprisonment for promoting separatism and violence, a Swiss-based foundation awarded him a prestigious human rights prize on Tuesday for his efforts to foster dialogue and understanding.

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To Beijing’s dismay, jailed Uighur scholar wins human rights award

The Washington Post, 11 October 2016


Beijing— China dismissed the award of a major human rights prize on Tuesday to scholar Ilham Tohti, an ethnic Uighur who was jailed for life in 2014 on charges of advocating separatism and supporting terrorism.

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European Parliament: Award Ilham Tohti The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for 2016

Uyghur Human Rights Project, 4 October 2016

For immediate release
September 26, 2016 10:35 am EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project  
001 (202) 478 1920 or


UHRP — The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) calls on the European Parliament to award Ilham Tohti the 2016 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Professor Ilham Tohti has been a consistent voice for the equitable treatment of Uyghurs in China and in doing so has made an outstanding contribution to human rights.

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China Builds More Prisons in Xinjiang

Radio Free Asia, 28 September 2016


RFA Uyghur Service — Faced with growing tensions in its far northwestern region of Xinjiang, China has built a large complex of prisons outside the regional capital Urumqi, sources say.

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China Wants You to Forget Ilham Tohti

Human Rights Watch, 20 September 2016


By Sophie Richardson — It’s been two years since Ilham Tohti, a well-regarded ethnic Uyghur economist and peaceful critic of the Chinese government, was sentenced to life in prison by the Xinjiang People’s High Court for alleged “separatism” after a grossly unfair trial. Tohti and his family had already endured years of harassment and periods of house arrest by state agents, but in September 2014 Beijing evidently felt it necessary to take him off the grid permanently.

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Uyghur Dissident Jailed by China Nominated For Human Rights Award

Radio Free Asia, 18 September 2016

382743dc-7b57-4471-85b4-532abdfc38a9RFA Uyghur Service — The European Parliament has named jailed Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti as a finalist for a key human rights award in 2016, for “exceptional individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

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Sakharov Prize 2016: Nominees revealed

European Parliament, 16 September 2016


European Parliament Journalist Can Dündar and fellow defenders of freedom of thought and expression in Turkey, the Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzemilev, the Yazidi survivors and public advocates Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar as well as Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti are this year’s nominees for the Sakharov Prize. The Parliament awards the Sakharov Prize every year to honour exceptional individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. The laureate is selected in late October.

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Uyghur Political Prisoners

This section provides an overview on cases of Uyghur political prisoners that are known to the public. However, the real number is likely to be much higher, but due to the restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities to reveal details on imprisoned Uyghurs, it is impossible to determine the exact number.

For decades, the Chinese government has wrongfully imprisoned Uyghurs for lengthly prison sentences, merely for exercising their freedom of expression, writing articles, peacefully practicing their religion, peacefully protesting, or even for studying abroad. Due to heavy monitoring, restrictions on digital activities and reprisals against individuals or their family members to speak to foreign press or organisations, it is very difficult to get details on the condition and situation of many political prisoners. Even so, the WUC has made this page to document all those wrongfully imprisoned by Chinese authorities and to continue to strive for their release and for justice in their cases.

Jailed Uyghur Professors, Writers, Journalists and Webmasters

  1. Ilham Tohti (life imprisonment)
  2. Gheyret Niyaz (15 years in prison)
  3. Gulmira Imin (life imprisonment) along with another four Uyghur website moderators
  4. Ekbar Eset (unknown)
  5. Memetjan Abdulla (life imprisonment)
  6. Memet Turghun Abdulla (unknown)
  7. Nijat Azat (10 years in prison)
  8. Tursunjan Hezim (7 years in prison)
  9. Tursunjan Muhemmet Marshal (unknown)
  10. Other Uyghur Website Staff Detained after 5 July 2009

Charges Related to Freedom of Speech

  1. Ababekri Ömer (6 years in prison)
  2. Abduhelil Zunun (20 years in prison)
  3. Abdulla Jamal (unknown)
  4. Abdughani Imin and Obulkasim Abliz (13 and 15 years in prison)
  5. Abdukerim Mettersun (unknown)
  6. Ablimit Ghoja’Abdulla (unknown)
  7. Ekberjan Jamal (10 years in prison)
  8. Halmurat Imin (unknown)
  9. Isa Husen (12 years in prison)
  10. Mamatali Ahat (8 years in prison)
  11. Nurhahmat Yusup (20 years in prison)
  12. Niyaz Kahar (unknown)
  13. Omerjan Hasan (Hesen) (unknown)
  14. Tursunjan Hesen (unknown)

Charges Related to Freedom of Association

  1. Abdukadir Mahsum (15 years in prison)
  2. Miradil Yasin and Mutellip Teyip (unknown)
  3. Musha Yushan (unknown)
  4. Omer Akchi (life imprisonment)

Religious Charges

  1. Abdukerim Abduweli (unknown)
  2. Abdusemet Qarihaji (20 years in prison)
  3. Adil Qarim (life imprisonment)
  4. Akemanjiang (unknown)
  5. Ali Ablat (10 years in prison)
  6. Buzainafu Abudourexiti (7 years in prison)
  7. Ghojaexmet Niyaz (6 years in prison)
  8. Horigul Nasir (10 years in prison)
  9. Imam Sulayman (2 years in prison)
  10. Memet Réhim and Memet Sidiq (unknown)
  11. Merdan Seyitakhun, Qurbanjan Abdusemet and another 10 Uyghur Men (various)
  12. Nurtay Memet (5 years in prison)
  13. Perhatjan (unknown)
  14. Qahar Mensur and Muhemmed Tursun (3 years in prison)
  15. Yusufjan and Memetjan (unknown)

Detained for Studying Abroad

  1. 6 Uyghur Students: Kawser, Mewlan, Jawlan, Mudeser, Suriya & Gulshan  (5-12 years in prison)
  2. Hebibulla Tohti (10 years in prison)
  3. Memet Abla, 39, his wife Buzorigul Rishit, 36 and their 12-year-old son Hezritieli Memet (unknown)

Unknown Charges

  1. Ehsan Ismail (life imprisonment)

Reeducation Through Labour (RTL)

  1. Sirajidin Eziz, Nurabla Nurmemet, Abla Ablikim, Eli Hapiz, Ahmet Osman, Ablet Abdurehim, and Omer Salih (16-24 months)

Death in Detention

  1. Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz (life imprisonment; died in Nov. 2011 following allegations of abuse and torture)
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