Ilham Tohti was selected by a jury of 10 global Human Rights organizations as the 2016 Martin Ennals Award Laureate. The Award is given to Human Rights Defenders who have shown deep commitment and face great personal risk. The aim of the award is to provide protection through international recognition. Strongly supported by the City of Geneva, the Award will be held on October 11th, 16:00 Ethiopian time.
The Laureate: Ilham Tohti (China)
Ilham Tohti has worked peacefully for two decades to foster dialogue between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. He has been subject to official surveillance and harassment since 1994. On January 15, 2014, Ilham Tohti was arrested on charges of separatism and terrorism and sentenced to life imprisonment after a two-day trial.
In addition to Ilham the two other finalists who received Martin Ennals Prizes; these are:
Razan Zaitouneh (Syria)
Razan has dedicated her life to defending political prisoners, documenting violations, and helping others free themselves from oppression. She founded the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), which documents the death toll and ill-treatment in Syria's prisons. She had started to cover all sides in the conflict when she was kidnapped, alongside with her husband and two colleagues, on 9 December 2013. Her whereabouts remain unknown.
Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia)
Kality prison in Ethiopia has 8 zones and holds many journalists and political prisoners. 9 young activists called themselves ‘Zone 9’ as a symbol for Ethiopia as a whole. They document human rights abuses and shed light on the situation of political prisoners in Ethiopia. Six of its members were arrested and charged with terrorism. Although they have now been released, three are in exile while four of the six remaining in Ethiopia are still facing charges and are banned from travel.
Zone 9 wants to congratulate the winner of the award and hope the award will have an impact on securing the release of Illham. We wish him best of luck in the future.