Demand action. Tell China to release Ilham Tohti immediately and unconditionally.
“The path I have pursued all along is honourable and peaceful. I have relied only on pen and paper.”
Interview with Ilham Tohti filmed by: Tsering Woeser
Ilham Tohti is a well-respected university professor, known for his moderate views on ethnic issues in China. Yet in January 2014 he was taken from his home in Beijing by police.
For five months, family and friends were not told where he was. He was denied food for 10 days and had his feet in shackles for 20 days straight. Then in September 2014 he was given a life sentence – supposedly for stirring up ethnic hatred.
Ilham comes from the Uighur community, a largely Muslim ethnic group that faces widespread discrimination in his home region, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. In recent years, there has been a rise in tensions between ethnic groups there, as well as an increase in violent attacks.
Ilham adamantly opposed violence and worked tirelessly to build bridges and encourage cooperation between communities. Through his writing and lectures he also highlighted government practices that discriminated against many aspects of Uighurs’ lives.But now he faces a lifetime in jail. He’s being cruelly punished for peacefully challenging the Chinese government’s policies towards ethnic minorities.