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Sakharov Prize for Freedom and Thought

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause.


The European Parliament 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was awarded to Uyghur economist and human rights activist Ilham Tohti.

“I am very pleased to announce that the European Parliament has chosen Ilham Tohti as the winner of the 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Tohti has dedicated his life to advocating for the rights of the Uyghur minority in China. Despite being a voice of moderation and reconciliation, he was sentenced to life in prison following a show trial in 2014. By awarding this prize, we strongly urge the Chinese government to release Tohti and we call for the respect of minority rights in China” - European Parliament President David Sassoli, 24 October 2019.

Mr Tohti is an Uyghur economist, scholar and human rights activist serving a life sentence in China on separatism-related charges.

Read more about the laureate, as well as the other finalists and nominees here.

Find out more about the Sakharov Prize