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IFC/CPFC Statement on Ilham Tohti Verdict

IFC/CPFC Statement on Ilham Tohti Verdict

Mr. Ilham Tohti, a distinguished Uyghur Scholar from China’s Minzu University, was sentenced yesterday to life imprisonment for “separatism” after two days of a bogus trial during which no witness was present or evidences put forth to support the charges against him. The Intermediate People’s Court in Urumqi also issued an order to confiscate all of Mr. Ilham Tohti’s assets. IFC/CPFC strongly condemns this verdict and calls on the international community to press China to release Mr. Ilham Tohti immediately and unconditionally.

Mr. Ilham Tohti, an economics professor who has taught at Beijing’s Minzu University, was arrested on January 15th, 2014 by the Chinese authorities without any specific crime. Mr. Tohti was a visible commentator on Uyghur-Han policy issues who often criticized the Chinese ruling regime’s actions in Xinjiang. Within China’s academic circles, Mr. Tohti and his nonviolent perspectives were viewed as the bridge between the Ugyhur and Han ethnicities. He hosted and frequently contributed to Uyghur Online, a website that discusses Uyghur issues.


This outregeous persecution  on the part of the Chinese government against Mr. Ilham Tohti further 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. Dr. Yang Jianli, founder of Initiatives for China/Citizen Power for China says he is “afraid this verdict would burn the bridge for reconciliation of the two peoples in the future.”

The sentencing of Mr. Ilham Tohti to life imprisonment is one of the violent measures against minorities. We are saddened that the regime’s history of ethnic suppression, including their crackdowns after the 2008 Tibetan Incident and the 2009 Urumqi Incident, have long caused devastating results and unrest. But we are more determined than ever to fight side by side with our Uyghur brothers and sisters for their freedom and dignity as well as ours.

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