Activist urges EU to ‘not be complicit in Chinese persecution of Muslim Uighurs’

Jewher Ilham, daughter of imprisoned Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti, and European Parliament President David Sassoli attend the Sakharov Prize ceremony at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg. (AP Photo)
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Updated 19 December 2019

Activist urges EU to ‘not be complicit in Chinese persecution of Muslim Uighurs’

  • Jewher Ilham was receiving the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought award on behalf her father, Ilham Tothi
  • Ilham urged politicians, academics and students to protest against the treatment of the Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang

DUBAI: A Uighur activist, whose father was jailed by the Chinese government, appealed to European lawmakers to “work towards a solution” on Wednesday, amid growing backlash of China’s treatment of the Muslim minority group.

Jewher Ilham was receiving the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought award on behalf her father, Ilham Tothi, an Uighur intellectual who is currently held in an “undisclosed location” in China. 

In her speech before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ilham urged politicians, academics and students to protest against the treatment of the Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang, where reports of “concentration camps” subjecting Muslims into “torture” have been made.

Ilham’s father was jailed for life in China in 2014 on separatism charges that were widely denounced by the West.

After the prize was announced in October, China said he was “a criminal who was sentenced in accordance with the law by a Chinese court,” and urged that “all sides respect China’s internal affairs and judicial sovereignty and not inflate the arrogance of terrorists.”

China has said Xinjiang is under threat from militants and separatists. It denies mistreatment or mass internment, saying it is simply seeking to end extremism and violence through education.


Russia says suspected mercenaries detained by Belarus were going to Latin America

Updated 6 min 25 sec ago

Russia says suspected mercenaries detained by Belarus were going to Latin America

  • Belarusian authorities have said they suspect the men entered their country to plot “acts of terrorism” and destabilize it before an Aug. 9 presidential election
  • Russia has close relations with a number of Latin American countries including Venezuela, and sent dozens of military personnel to Caracas last year

MOSCOW: A Russian diplomat said on Monday a group of more than 30 suspected Russian mercenaries detained in Belarus last week were only passing through Minsk and were on their way to an unnamed Latin American state.
Belarusian authorities have said they suspect the men entered their country to plot “acts of terrorism” and destabilize it before an Aug. 9 presidential election.
Russian officials have dismissed the accusation and described the men as employees of a private security firm. The Russian state says it does not use mercenaries.
The standoff could further strain relations between Minsk and its traditional ally Russia, which soured after the neighbors failed to agree on an oil supply contract for this year.
“Their final destination was one of the states in the Latin American region,” the diplomat, Kirill Pletnyev, was quoted as saying on Monday by the Russian RIA news agency.
Belarus granted Pletnyev consular access to the detained men, RIA added. His quotes did not name the Latin American country or give any more details on the identity of the men.
Russia has close relations with a number of Latin American countries including Venezuela, and sent dozens of military personnel to Caracas last year, describing them as military specialists.
On Friday, Alexander Agafonov, the head of the Belarusian investigative group that is handling the case, said the arrested men — some of whom were wearing army fatigues — had given “contradictory accounts” about their plans.
He was quoted as saying that 11 of the arrested men had told authorities they planned to fly on to Venezuela, 15 to Turkey, two to Cuba and one to Syria. Another said he did not know his destination, while three refused to make a statement.
Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has said he wants a full explanation from Russia, faces his biggest electoral test in years on Aug. 9 as public anger swells over his handling of COVID-19, the economy and human rights.