Uyghur poet Tahir Hamut Honored with 2024 Havel Human Rights Prize

OSLO, NORWAY (May 22, 2024) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent: Iranian hip-hop artist Toomaj Salehi, Uyghur poet and activist Tahir Hamut Izgil, and Venezuelan pianist and recording artist Gabriela Montero.

HRF said: “Izgil is a prominent Uyghur poet, filmmaker, and activist. He is known for his avant-garde poetry, written in Uyghur and influenced by Uyghur life. Originally from Kashgar, Izgil led the 1989 student movement at the Central Nationalities Institute in Beijing. In the late 1990s, he was arrested on charges related to the possession of sensitive literature, leading to a three-year sentence in forced labor camps. He is among the few Uyghur intellectuals who successfully escaped the region in 2017.

Izgil’s new memoir, “Waiting to Be Arrested at Night: A Uyghur Poet’s Memoir of China’s Genocide,” documents his journey living in and escaping the Uyghur Region, sharing a rare testimony of the Uyghur genocide with the broader world. His book has been listed as one of the “50 notable works of nonfiction” by The Washington Post and as one of the “100 Must-Read Books of 2023” by Time Magazine.”

Uyghur community members across the globe are expressing profound appreciation and support for Tahir Hamut’s unwavering efforts to defend the rights and freedoms of the Uyghur people. The renowned intellectual has been a vocal critic of China’s repressive policies targeting Uyghurs, courageously giving voice to the oppressed. His resilience and determination in the face of adversity has inspired the entire Uyghur diaspora, who hail him as an exemplary figure in the struggle for Uyghur rights and self-determination.

Tahir Hamut Izgil said on Facebook: “Many thanks to the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) for awarding me the Václav Havel Prize. I also salute the other two winners.”


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