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Detained Uighur academic wins rights prize, China expresses anger

Published on Apr 1, 2014 5:37 PM
 
Ilham Tohti, an economics professor at Beijing's Minzu University, sits in a restaurant in Beijing, in this handout picture taken Jan 8, 2014. China's foreign ministry expressed anger on Tuesday after the prominent detained Uighur academic won a human rights award in the United States, saying that he was a suspected criminal. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's foreign ministry expressed anger on Tuesday after a prominent detained Uighur academic won a human rights award in the United States, saying that he was a suspected criminal.

Ilham Tohti, an economics professor who has championed the rights of the Muslim Uighur people from China's restive far western region of Xinjiang, was detained in January and subsequently charged with separatism.

Prof Tohti's case is the latest sign of the government's hardening stance on dissent in Xinjiang, gripped by periodic outbursts of violence often pitting Uighurs against ethnic Han Chinese.

The PEN American Center said on Monday it would award Prof Tohti the 2014 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, and that his daughter, a student at Indiana University, will accept the award on her father's behalf in New York on May 5.

 
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