Jewher Ilham is an author, rights activist, and the daughter of Uyghur scholar, Ilham Tohti — an internationally renowned moderate voice dedicated to bridging the gap between the Uyghur people and the Han Chinese. The last time Jewher saw her father was in 2013 at the Beijing airport, where he was detained by China authorities while travelling to Indiana University to pursue a fellowship. In September 2014, Professor Tohti was sentenced to life in prison because of his writings that promote peace between Uyghurs and Han Chinese.
Jewher has acted courageously in response to her father’s situation. She has testified before the U.S. Congressional Executive Committee on China and UN General Assembly. Jewher has been published in the New York Times, lobbied government officials in the European Union, and met with politicians including former Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss her father’s arrest and China’s systematic repression of Uyghurs. In 2015, she published Jewher Ilham: A Uyghur’s Fight to Free Her Father, which recounts her experience as an activist for her father and the Uyghur people. In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invited Jewher to deliver the keynote address at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Last year, she accepted the Sakharov Price human rights award on behalf of her father. Jewher is a graduate of Indiana University and is currently working on a documentary film about the situation of Uyghur Muslims in China while continuing to advocate for her father.