By Ilham Tohti, published: September 25, 2014
On Wednesday, September 24, 2014, lawyer Li Fangping met with Ilham in Urumqi Detention Center, Xinjiang. Ilham signed a 15-page appeal to be submitted by his lawyers. Meanwhile Li Fangping recorded Ilham’s statement:
My outcries are for our people and, even more, for the future of China.
Before entering prison, I kept worrying I wouldn’t be able to deal with the harshness inside. I worried I would betray my conscience, career, friends and family. I made it!
The upcoming life in prison is not something I’ve experienced, but it will nonetheless become our life and my own experience. I don’t know how long my life can go on. I have courage; I will not be fragile. If you hear news that I mutilated or killed myself, you can be certain it is made-up.
After seeing the judgment against me, contrary to what people may think, I now think I have a more important duty to bear.
Even though I have departed, I still live in anticipation of the sun and the future. I am convinced that China will become better, and that the constitutional rights of the Uighur people will, one day, be honored.
Peace is a heavenly gift to the Uighur and Han people. Only peace and good will can create a common interest.
I wear my shackles twenty-four hours a day, and was only allowed physical exercise for three hours out of the last eight months. My cell mates are eight sentenced Han prisoners. These are fairly harsh conditions. However, I count myself fortunate when I look at what has happened to my students and other Uighurs accused of separatist crimes. I had my own Han lawyer whom I appointed to defend me, and my family was allowed to attend my trial. I was able to say what I wanted to say. I hope that, through my case, rule of law in Xinjiang can improve, even if it is only a baby step.
After yesterday’s sentencing, I slept better than I ever did in the eight months (of my detention). I never realized I had this in me. The only thing is don’t tell my old mother what happened. Tell my family to tell her that it’s only a five-year sentence. Last night, in the cell next door Parhat Halmurat (student of Ilham’s and an editor of Uighurbiz website) slammed himself against the door and cried out loud. I heard the sound of shackles, nonstop, as they were taken to interrogations. Maybe my students have been sentenced too.
(To his wife): My love, for the sake of our children, please be strong and don’t cry! In a future not too far away, we will be in each other’s arms once more. Take care of yourself! Love, Ilham.
My Ideals and the Career Path I Have Chosen, autobiography by Ilham Tohti
2009 Interview with Uyghur Scholar Ilham Tohti, with Chinese and English subtitles
Ilham Tohti should get the Nobel peace prize, not life in prison, Teng Biao’s op-ed in the Guardian
(Translated by Louisa Chiang)