Statement on the Trial of Ilham Tohti

Posted on Sep 18, 2014

Initiatives for China/Citizen Power for China learns of the Wednesday trial of Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti charged with “separatism” in the Xinjiang. We strongly protest the ongoing persecution of political perjury against him amid procedural flaws of the case.


Ilham Tohti is the founder of Ilham_Tohtiwebsite “Uyghur Online” since 2006, publishing various essays and policy proposals on Chinese nationality issues based on his research, social justice, and a scholar’s conscience to rationalize them. He has consistently supported mutual understanding and dialogues between nationalities and national states on the basis of peaceful resolutions. However, these ideas and proposals are not acceptable to the Communist regime, and therefore, Ilham Tohti and his family have been harassed from time to time since 2009 by the authorities, from under house arrest, surveillance and detention. Under such circumstances, Ilham Tohti could not continue publication of his views and proposals about current Chinese political and social affairs and nationality policies. In January 2014, Ilham Tohti was formally arrested by the Chinese authorities, kept under secret detention for six months, and then charged with “separatism” by local procuratorate in Ulumuqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.


Such a political repression against Ilham Tohti reveals the core value of the Communist regime nationality policy which discriminates against the Uyghur minority. The regime acts unconstitutionally in Xinjiang by denying the autonomy authorized in the Constitution. The Chinese authorities fear real autonomy would provide a bed for Chinese democracy. As a matter of fact, the Communist regime has never given up its authoritarian rule in those minority-dominated areas, which include those of the Uyghurs. The regime has adopted a series of policies featuring political repression, economic exploitation, cultural and religious dissolution, and genocide. Any criticism of the policy regarding Uyghurs would be regarded as “separatism” and “terrorism”. Peaceful protests have been violently cracked down, thus creating more troubles and increasing tensions in those regions.


Under such circumstances, we believe the trial of Ilham Tohti is one of the violent measures against minorities, and therefore, we cannot expect such trials to be fair and just. As a matter of fact, this case has involved torture and illegal procedures. From January to June this year, he was denied the ability to meet with defense lawyers. We learned that since his detention, Ilham Tohti did not eat anything for 10 days, and was shackled and handcuffed twice totaling more than a month. Such a treatment violates relevant Chinese laws in detention centers. The Intermediate Court in Ulumqi started this trial abruptly, on short notice, despite defense lawyer disputes with the court over jurisdiction of the case, who failed to receive any reply from authorities.


We call the Communist regime to stop any and political repression in the name of legal procedure. Such a dirty and evil practice can only cheat innocent people, yet, cannot hide the essence of the Communist regime before the eyes of sharp observers. We are very concerned about the deteriorating situation of the relationship between Han and Uyghur nationalities given the political repression against Ilham Tohti. This relationship has been harmed by nasty politics, and therefore reconciliation would be even more difficult in the future, bringing more harmful consequences to both groups.


We want to remind the Communist regime that the case and trial of Ilham Tohti matters a lot to the nationalities and the constitutional autonomy of nationalities. To improve such relations, the communist regime must drop cases against Ilham Tohti and other dissidents and reflect on the overdue review of the national politics. Otherwise, hatred between the two groups will deepen, and thus cause unprecedented consequences for the whole society.



Jianli Yang

Lianchao Han

Jianying Wang

Yu Yang