Jan 15, 2019

Civil Society Calls on China to Immediately Release Uyghur Professor Ilham Tohti Five Years After His Arrest

On the five year anniversary of the arrest of Uyghur professor Ilham Tohti, civil
society is calling for China to grant his immediate release and to heed calls for the
release of an untold number of Uyghur scholars currently detained.

Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur economist, writer and professor, founded the website
“Uighurbiz.net” in 2006 to promote conciliation between Uyghurs and Han Chinese,
but was arrested on January 15, 2014. Despite the UN Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention finding his detention to be arbitrary in March 2014, Tohti was sentenced to
life in prison in September of that year on charges of “separatism” after just a two-day

The legal process involving Tohti was met with significant issues throughout. His
lawyers were unable to meet him for six months following the initial arrest, his
defense team was not provided with complete evidence by the prosecutor, nor were
their requested witnesses allowed to testify during the trial.

Professor Ilham Tohti, for a number of years, criticised oppressive policies against
Uyghurs and wrote extensively on constructive approaches to overcome unequal
treatment between ethnic groups. Notably, he called for dialogue and reconciliation,
using his web platform as the primary vehicle.

Ilham has been serving his life sentence since December 2014 at Urumqi’s No. 1
Prison. Since then, he has been allowed visits by close family every three months and
limited to one hour. Complicating this has been his continued detention in Urumqi,
despite his family living in Beijing – a likely punitive move from Beijing.
ChinaChange has noted that Tohti has been held in solitary confinement until at least
early 2016 and has been denied the right to communicate with family and friends
aside from minimal visits.

ChinaChange also reported that Tohti’s 25-year old niece from Atush was sentenced
in early 2016 to ten years in prison for possessing photos of him and two articles
about him by Radio Free Asia on her cell phone.

Seven of his students (Perhat Halmurat, Shohret Nijat, Luo Yuwei, Mutellip Imin,
Abduqeyum Ablimit, Atikem Rozi and Akbar Imin) all remain imprisoned on
separatism charges, but their whereabouts and conditions remain unknown.

At the time, Ilham’s case stood as a warning shot directed at Uyghur intellectuals and
activists in China more broadly. The Chinese government has evidently failed to yield
to his advice and now operates one of the most obtrusive surveillance states in the
world while arbitrarily locking up Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz in political
indoctrination facilities. Estimates of the number detained range from several hundred
thousand to well over a million.

Coinciding with the construction of the camps has been the detention of hundreds
more Uyghur scholars and writers in the region. Notable scholars detained include
professor Rahile Dawut, a respected specialist on Uyghur culture; professo
Ghophur, a prominent medical scientist; Gheyret Abdurahman, the deputy head of the
Linguistics Department at the Academy of Social Sciences of Xinjiang; Qurban
Mamut, a writer and magazine editor; Abdulqadir Jalaleddin, a literature professor at
Xinjiang Pedagogical University; and Askar Yunus, a prominent historian of the
Kyrgyz ethnic community, among many others.

We, the undersigned are therefore calling for the release of Ilham Tohti as well as all
those scholars arbitrarily detained in political indoctrination facilities.


Amnesty International



Free Tibet

Frontline Defenders

Ilham Tohti Initiative

International Campaign for Tibet

International Tibet Network

PEN International

Reporters Without Borders

Scholars at Risk

Society for Threatened Peoples

Taiwan Association for Human Rights

Tibet Initiative Deutschland

Tibet Justice Center

Tibet Watch

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

Uyghur Human Rights Project

World Uyghur Congress


Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor (Emeritus), MIT, Cambridge MA, Laureate

Professor, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ

Rachel Harris, Reader in the Music of Central Asia and China, SOAS, University of
London (UK)

Nathan Light, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala
University (Sweden)

Kevin Carrico, Senior Lecturer, Macquarie University (Australia)

David Brophy, Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney (Australia)

James Leibold, Associate Professor, La Trobe University (Australia)

Gardner Bovingdon, Associate Professor, Indiana University (US)

Michael Clarke, Associate Professor, National Security College, Australian National
University (Australia)

Vanessa Frangville, Senior Lecturer, Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

Rebecca Karl, Professor of History, New York University (US)

Teng Biao, Visiting scholar, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, New York University (US)

Marianne Kamp, Associate Professor, Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University

Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania, Professor of Chinese Language and
Literature (US)

Noor O’Neill Borbieva, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology, Purdue
University Fort Wayne (US)

Adeeb Khalid, Jane and Raphael Bernstein Professor of Asian Studies and History,
Carleton College (US)

Kelly Hammond, Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas (US)

Magnus Fiskesjö, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Cornell
University (US)

Adrian Zenz, Independent Researcher (Germany)

Tom Cliff, Research Fellow, The Australian National University (Australia)

Françoise Lauwaert, Associate Professor, Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

Solange Chatelard, Research Associate, Universite Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

Flora J Roberts, Ph.D., Junior Research Group Leader: Environment and Society in
Central Asia, University of Tübingen, LIAS & LUCSoR Research Fellow, Leiden
University (Germany/Netherlands)

Yves Moreau, Professor of Engineering, University of Leuven (Belgium)

Sabine Trebinjac, Directrice de recherché, Centre National de la Recherche
Scientifique (CNRS) (France)

Michael Dillon, Independent Scholar, PhD FRHistS FRAS (UK)

Thierry Kellner, Lecturer, Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

Ulug Kuzuoglu, Lecturer, Columbia University (US)

Alexandre Papas, Senior Research Fellow, Centre National de la Recherche
Scientifique (France)

Ondrej Klimes, Research Fellow, Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of
Sciences (Czech Republic)

Darren Byler, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington (US)

Sean R. Roberts, Assoc. Prof. and Director, Int’l Dev. Studies, The George
Washington University (US)

Magnus Fiskesjö, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Cornell
University (US)

Françoise Lauwaert, Professor of Chinese langage and culture (emeritus), Université
Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

Solange Chatelard, Research Associate, Universite Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

Flora Roberts, Ph.D., Junior Research Group Leader: Environment and Society in
Central Asia, University of Tübingen (Germany)

Yves Moreau, Professor of Engineering, University of Leuven (Belgium)

Sabine Trebinjac, Directrice de recherché, Centre National de la Recherche
Scientifique (CNRS) (France)

Thierry Kellner, Lecturer, Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

Ulug Kuzuoglu, Lecturer, Columbia University (US)

Alexandre Papas, Senior Research Fellow, Centre National de la Recherche
Scientifique (France)

OndÅ™ej Klimeš, Researcher, Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences
(Czech Republic)

Hilde De Weerdt, Professor of Chinese History, Leiden University (Netherlands)

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Chancellor’s Professor of History, University of California,
Irvine (US)

Rian Thum, Senior Research Fellow, University of Nottingham (UK)

Joanne Smith Finley, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies, Newcastle University (UK)

Edward Schatz, Associate Professor, Political Science and Eurasian Studies,
University of Toronto (Canada)

Laleh Khalili, Professor of Middle East Politics, SOAS University of London (UK)

Tsering Shakya, Associate Professor, Institute of Asian Research, University of
British Columbia (Canada)

Dr. Mehmet Dikkaya, Professor, Kırıkkale University (Turkey)

Craig Clunas, FBA, Professor Emeritus of the History of Art , Honorary Fellow of
Trinity College, University of Oxford (UK)

Dr. Alexander Morrison, Fellow and Tutor in History, New College, Oxford (UK)
Scott Simon, Professor, Université d’Ottawa (Canada)

Wen-ling Liu, Librarian for East Asian and Tibetan Studies, Indiana University
Libraries (US)

Dr. Andreas Fulda, Assistant Professor in Contemporary Chinese Studies, School of
Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham (UK)

Olga Lomová, Professor of Chinese literature, Charles University (Czech Republic)

Rossella Ferrari, Reader, Department of East Asian Studies, SOAS, University of
London (UK)

Dr. Beatrice Penati, Lecturer in Russian and Eurasian History, Department of History,
University of Liverpool (UK)

James Millward, Professor of History, Georgetown University (US)

Till Mostowlansky , Department of Anthropology & Sociology , The Graduate
Institute Geneva (Switzerland)

Henry Leperlier, PhD, Lecturer (retired), Chinese Studies and Language, Dublin
Institute of Technology (Ireland)

Don Baker, Professor, Asian Studies, University of British Columbia (Canada)

Joshua Goldstein, Associate Professor, History and East Asian Languages and
Cultures, University of Southern California (US)

Renat Shaykhutdinov, Associate Professor, Florida Atlantic University (US)

Dr. Daniel Beben, Assistant Professor of History, School of Humanities and Social
Sciences, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Abduweli Ayup, PhD, Independent Scholar (Turkey)

Dr. Patricia Oliart, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies, Newcastle University

Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen, Associate Professor of Gender Studies, University of
Stavanger (Norway)

Professor S. Sayyid, Chair in Social Theory and Decolonial Thought, Univeristy of
Leeds (UK)

Maurizio Marinelli, Senior Lecturer in East Asian history, University of Sussex (UK)

Prof. Em. Per Kværne, University of Oslo (Norway)

Estella Carpi, Research Associate, University College London (UK)

Dilinur Kassimova, Associate Professor, Suleyman Demirel University (Kazakhstan)

Sebastian Veg, Professor (directeur d’études), Centre de Recherches historiques,
EHESS (France)

Sylvie Peperstraete, Professor, Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) & Ecole
pratique des hautes Etudes (France)

Naomi Standen, Professor of Medieval History, University of Birmingham (UK)

Séagh Kehoe, Teaching Fellow in Modern Chinese History, School of History,
Politics and IR, University of Leicester (UK)

Dr. Jesko Schmoller, Senior researcher, European University St. Petersburg / Perm
State University (Russian Federation)

John L. Esposito, University Professor, Georgetown University (US)

Gail Helt, Assistant Professor and Coordinator,, Security and Intelligence Studies
King University (US)

Martin Flaherty, Visiting Professor, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and
International Affairs, Princeton University (US)

Tamar Mayer, Professor of Geography, Middlebury College (US)

Nader Hashemi, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Middle East
Studies, University of Denver (US)

Steven Sabol, Professor of History, UNC Charlotte (US)

Carole McGranahan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado

Jesse Driscoll, Associate Professor, School of Global Policy and Strategy, University
of California San Diego (US)

Douglas W. Blum, Professor of Political Science, Providence College (US)

Stanley Toops, Associate Professor, Geography, Miami University (US)

Justin M. Jacobs, Associate Professor of History, American University (US)

Mohammad Fadel, Professor of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law (Canada)

Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

Deina Abdelkader, Associate Professor, Political Science Dept., University of
Massachusetts Lowell, Visiting Scholar at The Center for Middle Eastern Studies,
Harvard University US)

Dr. Emil Nasritdinov, Associate Professor, Anthropology, American University of
Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan)

Russell Zanca, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Northeastern Illinois
University (US)

Nazif Mohib Shahrani, PhD, Professor of Anthropology, Central Asian and Middle
Eastern Studies School of Global and International Studies, Indiana University (US)

Anthony Tirado Chase, Professor, Diplomacy & World Affairs, Occidental College

Timothy Grose, Assistant Professor of China Studies, Rose-Hulman Institute of
Technology (US)

Kristian Petersen, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Old
Dominion University (US)

Scott Radnitz, Associate Professor, Jackson School of International Studies
University of Washington (US)

Professor Rafik Beekun, Managerial Sciences Dpt.,College of Business, University of
Nevada (US)

Ralph Litzinger, Associate Professor, Cultural Anthropology, Duke University (US)

Dr. David G. Atwill, Associate Professor of History, Pennsylvania State University

Steven M. Vose, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Florida International
University (US)

Jeannette Okur, Assistant Professor of Instruction, Dept. of Middle Eastern Studies,
University of Texas at Austin (US)

Prof. Fred Dallmayr, Philosophy anf Political Science, University of Notre Dame,
Notre Dame, IN (US)

Kirk A. Denton, Professor, Ohio State University (US)

Johan Elverskog, Dedman Family Distinguished Professor, Southern Methodist
University (US)

Eli Friedman, Associate Professor, Cornell University (US)

Donald Clarke, Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School (US)

Jerome A. Cohen, Professor of Law, New York University (US)

Peter Zarrow, Professor of History, University of Connecticut (US)

Michael Yahuda, Professor Emeritus, London School of Economics, Visiting Scholar,
George, Washington University (US)

Rory Truex, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton
University (US)

Maggie Clinton, Associate Professor of History, Middlebury College (US)

Gulnisa Nazarova, Senior Lecturer, Indiana University (US)

Brent Hierman, Associate Professor, Department of International Studies & Political
Science, Virginia Military Institute (US)

Rafik Beekun, Professor of Strategy and Ethics, University of Nevada-Reno (US)

Kerim Friedman, Associate Professor, National Dong Hwa University (Taiwan)

Dr. Abigail Schoneboom, Research Associate, School of Architecture Planning and
Landscape, Newcastle University (UK)

Dibyesh Anand, Professor of International Relations, University of Westminster (UK)

Galen Murton, Assistant Professor, School of Integrated Sciences and Technology,
James Madison University (US)

Dr. James McMurray, Research Associates & Associate Tutor, Global Studies,
University of Sussex (UK)

Martina Varkockova, Lecturer, Metropolitan University Prague (Czech Republic)

Martha C. Merrill, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Higher Education, Kent State
University (US)

Dr. Johan Rasanayagam, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, School of Social
Science, University of Aberdeen (UK)

Benjamin Gatling, Assistant Professor, Department of English, George Mason
University (US)

Zsuzsa Anna Ferenczy, PhD (Belgium)

Edward Friedman, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin (US)

Federica Venturi, CNRS/TibArmy Project (Paris)

Clyde Zaidins, Professor Emeritus and Chair, Department of Physics, University of
Colorado Denver (US)

Daniel A. Segal, Jean M. Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History,
Pitzer College, The Claremont Colleges (US)

Dr. Anna Sehnalova, University of Oxford (UK)

Valentina Vincis, Lecturer, University of Tübingen (Germany)

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor of Law,
UCLA School of Law (US)

Robin Visser, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill (US)

André Laliberté, Professor, School of political studies, University of Ottawa (Canada)


Photo courtesy from Radio Free Asia