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 Uyghurs, a Muslim Turkic people living mostly in modern China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. As a result of his efforts he was sentenced in September 2014, to life in prison following a two-day show trial. He remains a voice of moderation and reconciliation in spite of what has been done to him.
In spite of the fact that Professor Ilham Tohti has been living in Beijing for over twenty years, has a “Beijing resident status”, has a wife and two young children living in the Chinese capital, he has been sent away to Xinjiang and is now in jail in the Urumqi Number One Prison.
We fear that the fact Ilham Tohti is so far away from his family, that none of his lawyers has access to him, that his wife can only travel to Xinjiang once a year, because of her two young children, makes the situation most worrying for his mental and physical health.
We appeal to all Members of the European Parliament, to all the heads of State of the European Union to ask the Chinese government to release Ilham Tohti immediately or at least send Ilham Tohti back to Beijing if he is to continue serving his sentence.
Enver Can, President of ITI, Munich; Marie Holzman, President of Solidarité Chine, Paris