Madeleine Moon MP celebrates Human Rights Day by taking action in support of Ilham Tohti
Every year Human Rights Day, which commemorates the adoption of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reminds us of how important universal rights are. For everyone, everywhere. But sadly so many people all over the world still have their rights abused and violated.
As the Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on China, I follow closely the human rights situation there and want to use Human Rights Day to highlight the case of Ilham Tohti, an economics professor at Central University for Nationalities in Beijing, founder of Uighur Online website and a well-known critic of China’s ethnic and religious policy in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
Ilham Tohti is one of five that Amnesty International is prioritising as part of its annual Write for Rights Campaign, where supporters all over the world write messages of hope to people whose rights have been abused; or messages to those in authority, urging them to stop the abuse.
Ilham was first taken away from his home on 15 January 2014 and was later charged with ‘separatism’, a charge often used against Uighurs who speak out against human rights violations. He was held incommunicado for over 5 months. He first had access to his lawyers in June 2015, by which point he had lost 16kg, had been denied food for a period of 10 days and had had his feet shackled for more than 20 days. He has suffered harassment from other prisoners. His health has deteriorated but he has received a medical examination. His wife, Guzelnur, is under constant surveillance.
Uighurs have long been the target for systematic and extensive human rights violations; including arbitrary detention and imprisonment, serious restrictions on religious freedom and restrictions on the use of the Uighur language. Demonstrations are often met with a violent police response and websites documenting abuses are regularly shutdown.
Here in the UK we take so many rights and freedoms for granted, but Human Rights Day provides us with an opportunity to remember that people all over the world are still fighting for their rights – we must stand in solidarity with them and do all we can to promote and protect human rights, both here in the UK and across the world.
— Madeleine Moon MP
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