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Imprisoned for criticising the Chinese government

Academic Ilham Tohti is a prominent critic of the Chinese government’s policies in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Uighurs, an ethnic minority group that Ilham belongs to, face widespread discrimination in their employment, education and housing, curtailed religious freedom, and political marginalisation.

Ilham has spoken out about his community’s plight for many years, consistently opposing violence and working peacefully to build bridges between populations. His ‘Uighur Online’ website reported human rights violations, but has been repeatedly shut down. He has also been put under surveillance and interrogated after giving media interviews critical of China’s policies on ethnic minorities during a trip to France in 2009. After being charged with ‘separatism’, an ‘offence’ often used against Uighurs who speak out, Ilham was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014. 

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