China Charges Prominent Uighur Scholar With Separatism

Economics professor Ilham Tohti has been held in detention in Xinjiang since last month

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Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

University professor, blogger, and member of the Muslim Uighur minority, Ilham Tohti pauses before a classroom lecture in Beijing on June 12, 2010.

Chinese authorities have formally arrested prominent Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti on charges of separatism, after holding him in detention since last month.

Tohti’s wife Guzaili Nu’er said she received the arrest warrant at their home in Beijing Tuesday, while also learning that her husband is being held in the restive northwestern region of Xinjiang.

“This is ridiculous,” she told Reuters. “He’s never done anything like this. He is a teacher.”

While detained on several previous occasions, Tohti has never been charged with anything as severe as secession, a crime punishable by death.

Home to a Muslim Turkic ethnic minority that has long resented Beijing’s rule, Xinjiang has seen an upswing in violent clashes in recent months, following an October incident in which a car driven by alleged Uighur separatists crashed into a crowd on Tiananmen Square.

At least 23 people have died in Xinjiang bloodshed since the beginning of the year. Beijing blames the violence on “terrorists” while international rights organizations condemn the government for restricting Uighur religious and cultural expression.

Tohti, an economics professor at a Beijing university, had been an outspoken critic of the Communist Party’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang. However, he had stopped short of endorsing separatists’ call for independence.

After authorities detained Tohti in January, the U.S. State Department said that it appeared “to be a part of a disturbing pattern of arrests and detentions of public interest lawyers, internet activists, journalists, religious leaders and others who peacefully challenge official Chinese policies and actions.”

Tohti’s lawyer Li Fangping said Tuesday that he had traveled to Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, but had been denied the right to visit his client.

[BBC, Reuters]

8 comments
babyface1011
babyface1011

  • Very obvious, uyghur people are victims

GuoLiang
GuoLiang

What an ingrate. He and his people already benefit from privileges like affirmative action, no one-child policy, and being alive in a society where he is not the majority.

shinsakuto
shinsakuto

Imam Ilham Tohti is China's Abu Hamza. Like Hamza he does not wish to settle in his own country or were he came from but chose to reside in another country or region that afforded him a modern trappings and comfortable lifestyle at taxpayers expense while preaching Islamic fundamentalism and hatred of the authority by inciting and condoning acts of terrorism.

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

Oppressing people for their freedom loving and aspiration for their people are crimes against humanity. 

May those goons in Beijing rot in hell...

babyface1011
babyface1011

@GuoLiang son of bitch,tell me, you know what  except from Han can eat all the dirty thing???

Galym
Galym

@GuoLiang So would you prefer to kill all those who do not belong to Han Chinese majority? 

GuoLiang
GuoLiang

@RobertNguyen  By freedom loving, you mean "traitor to the nation". Tohti is lucky he is even alive.