China Wants You to Forget Ilham Tohti

Source: Human Rights Watch, September 20, 2016

It’s been two years since Ilham Tohti, a well-regarded ethnic Uyghur economist and peaceful critic of the Chinese government, was sentenced to life in prison by the Xinjiang People’s High Court for alleged “separatism” after a grossly unfair trial. Tohti and his family had already endured years of harassment and periods of house arrest by state agents, but in September 2014 Beijing evidently felt it necessary to take him off the grid permanently. Continue reading “China Wants You to Forget Ilham Tohti”

Was ist das Ziel der Ilham Tohti Initiative?

Die Ilham Tohti Initiative (ITI e.V.) ist ein gemeinnütziger Verein mit Sitz in Deutschland (85757 Karlsfeld, Fasanenstr. 79), benannt nach dem zu Unrecht inhaftierten uigurischen Wissenschaftler Prof. Ilham Tohti. Die ITI ist eine multinationale Organisation, die jeden willkommen heißt, unabhängig von Staats- und Volkszugehörigkeit oder religiöser Ausrichtung, der Prof. Ilham Tohtis Ideale und Visionen teilt. Ihr Ziel ist es, diese Ideen und Visionen zu fördern und in die Wirklichkeit umzusetzen. Continue reading “Was ist das Ziel der Ilham Tohti Initiative?”

Ilham Tohti: A Short Introduction

Prepared by Elliot Sperling, professor of Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University  Yaxue Cao, editor of and the Ilham Tohti Initiative   Ilham Tohti is the most renowned Uyghur public intellectual in the People’s Republic of China. For over two decades he has worked tirelessly to foster dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and Chinese over the present-day repressive religious, cultural and political conditions of the … Continue reading Ilham Tohti: A Short Introduction

Why Uyghur Issues Go Unreported—in and outside China

Source: Nieman Reports, January 8, 2016

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ most recent censusChina is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with 49 imprisoned as of December 2015. Of those 49, at least 14 are Uyghurs—a startling proportion given that the Turkic-speaking Muslim ethnic group, living in the country’s northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region, makes up less than one percent of the country’s population. That disproportionation, however, is less surprising to those familiar with the long-fraught relationship between the Uyghur people and China’s authoritarian government.

Uyghurs, unlike the rest of China’s 55 officially designated minority groups (with the other exception being the Tibetans), have a history, albeit a short one, as an independent nation. The region gained independence as the East Turkestan Republic in 1933 and again, after being sacked by the Chinese Muslim army during the Kumul Rebellion, in 1944. The Silk Road region officially came under Communist rule when the party took control of China in 1949.

Since then, the state has sponsored mass migration of the Han Chinese, China’s predominant ethnic group, to Xinjiang to support economic development; Han now comprise nearly half the region’s population. Meanwhile, the country’s central government has increasingly portrayed Uyghur separatists, who seek to govern themselves and call the Xinjiang region East Turkestan, as terrorists—claims that many human rights activists say are exaggerated and an excuse to justify oppressive policies that curtail Uyghur commercial and cultural activities. There are restrictions on Islamic religious practices, and Uyghur language instruction in schools is being phased out. Reports from the region chronicle a pattern of abuse that includes imprisonment, torture, and disappearances. Continue reading “Why Uyghur Issues Go Unreported—in and outside China”

Ilham Tohti's hand written application from his prison disputing the closed-door proceedings. Sticky post

Timeline of Ilham Tohti’s Case

Source: Human Rights Watch, September 15, 2014

Late 2005

Living in Beijing and teaching at Beijing’s Minzu University of China, Ilham Tohti establishes “Uighur Online,” a website published in Chinese and Uighur “to provide Uighurs and Hans with a platform for discussion and exchange.” The website serves as a platform for Uighur social and cultural issues, as well as Chinese policies in Xinjiang. Authorities periodically shut the website down. Continue reading “Timeline of Ilham Tohti’s Case”

Ilham Tohti 2016 Martin Ennals Award Laureate for Human Rights Defenders

October 11, 2016

The Award is given to Human Rights Defenders who have shown deep commitment and face great personal risk. The aim of the award is to provide protection through international recognition. Strongly supported by the City of Geneva, the Award will be presented on Oct. 11th.

Continue reading “Ilham Tohti 2016 Martin Ennals Award Laureate for Human Rights Defenders”

Die Ursachen der ethnischen Spannungen in Xinjiang

Auf eine Anfrage hochrangiger Beamter der chinesischen Regierung schrieb Prof. Tohti 2011 einen Artikel, in dem er neun Bereiche des sozialen, politischen, wirtschaftlichen und religiösen Lebens im Uigurischen Autonomen Gebiet Xinjiang aufzählt und darin die Ursachen für ethische Spannungen analysiert. Gleichzeitig gibt er Empfehlungen, wie man diesen Problemen begegnen könnte. Continue reading “Die Ursachen der ethnischen Spannungen in Xinjiang”

The Case for a Silenced Voice of Moderation

Wu’er Kaixi, October 1st, 2016,

As the European Parliament weighs this year’s nominations for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, I believe, deserves special consideration.

It may not seem so to some. The so-called Xinjiang Autonomous Region, formerly known as Eastern (or Chinese) Turkistan, is far away, its people, the Uyghurs, little known. Unlike other centers of systematic repression, it rarely features in headline journalism, and its travails do not resonate with the world as those of, say, Tibet do. Continue reading “The Case for a Silenced Voice of Moderation”