Date: January 31, 2019
(Washington, D.C.—January 31, 2019) Thirteen members of US Congress have officially nominated Ilham Tohti, an imprisoned Uyghur academic, for the Nobel Peace Prize, according to Radio Free Asia.
Tohti is a professor who is known for bringing attention to the persecution of his people, the ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang. He would often critique the Chinese government for its unjust religious and cultural persecution against Uyghurs.
On September 23, 2014, Tohti was sentenced to life in prison on charges of promoting separatism despite his lifelong commitment to peace. The authorities cited his interviews with foreign media outlets, criticism of government ethnic policies, and his website Uighurbiz.net as evidence against him.
Recently, China has heightened the persecution in Xinjiang through the use of re-education camps which are believed to have between 1 - 3 million Uyghurs in detention. Chinese officials often target intellectuals and religious people. Inside the camp, there are reports of abuse, torture, and forced labor.
If chosen, Tohti would follow in the footsteps of fellow human rights advocate, Liu Xiaboa who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.
The letter dated January 29 from the U.S. lawmakers called on the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to consider Tohti for the prestigious award, saying that amid an ongoing imprisonment of millions of Uyghurs, “voices like Professor Tohti’s are needed more than ever.”
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