Members of the US Congress are stepping up pressure on China over its treatment of its Muslim Uyghur population.
Lawmakers of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), led by senator Marco Rubio, said that they intend to nominate imprisoned Uyghur academic Ilham Tohti for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Tohti, once an economics professor in Beijing, worked over two decades to foster dialogue between Uyghurs and Han Chinese in his home region of Xinjiang. After deadly clashes broke out in 2009 between the two sides, he was repeatedly placed into detention and house arrest for publicizing cases of Uyghurs who were killed or went missing in the crackdown that followed. In 2014 he was detained again—for five months his family had no idea where he was—and then sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of separatism. His niece and students have also reportedly been imprisoned.