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Professor Ilham Tohti Calls for Family to Appeal His Case

China Change, published: October 16, 2015


伊力哈木上课Ilham Tohti, the Uighur scholar and public intellectual currently serving a life sentence in prison, has called on his family to engage lawyers and lodge an appeal for him through the Chinese judicial system. Ilham made the request on the second occasion that family has visited him since his sentence on September 23, 2014.

Ilham’s mother and brother traveled to the No. 1 Prison in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, on October 15. Ilham’s health is stable despite his being kept in solitary confinement, his lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan told Radio Free Asia, relating what Ilham’s brother had told him. Ilham also asked family to send him books. He firmly believes he’s not guilty of the charge of “separatism” leveled against him. His wife and one of his children visited him in July; the jail allows a visitation once every three months.

The Beijing-based dissident Hu Jia told Voice of America last year:

I have known Ilham for years. The first time we met, Ilham swore that his fondest hope was for Uighurs to co-exist peacefully within the Chinese nation. He’s opposed to separatism or violence in any form. All he wants is equality, dignity, and peaceful co-existence for his people. In all the years I’ve known him both as a person and as a scholar, I never witnessed the kind of behavior that the government is accusing him of. To take a moderate, scholarly campaigner for peace like Ilham Tohti, and to tar him with a label that’s the exact opposite of what he is — it’s just preposterous.

In mainland China, Ilham Tohti is the most— really the only—prominent and influential Uighur voice. By sentencing him to life in prison, the Chinese authorities show that they don’t want the Uighurs to have any voice. The fate of Ilham Tohti is the fate of all Uighurs living in China.




Ilham Tohti’s Statement after Receiving a Life Sentence for Allegedly “Separatist” Crimes, September 25, 2014.

Ilham Tohti Says, September 16, 2014

My Ideals and the Career Path I Have Chosen, April 2014.

Present-Day Ethnic Problems in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region: Overview and Recommendations, May 2015.


  1. This is an internal matter. Let the Chinese and Uighers resolve this themselves. Outside interferences make matter worse; nothing to do with the US or other non sovereigns involved. One step closer to peace in the world.

    • China Change says:

      You sound like you have little understanding of the power relations of the two parties: Its’s not between Han Chinese and Uighur; it is the Chinese government vs. the Uighur people. In fact it’s not even appropriate to refer to them as “two parties” when one side is the a dictatorial ruling juggernaut and the other, only 10 million in total, has been systematically deprived of their basic economic, cultural, religious and political rights, supposedly guaranteed by the Chinese law, and vilified as “terrorists.” What you have said doesn’t compute.

  2. […] Professor Ilham Tohti Calls for Family to Appeal His Case, October 16, 2015. […]

  3. […] On October 15, 2015, one of his older brothers and his mother visited him again, and he told them he wanted to appeal his case. […]

  4. I hope the deadlock gets resolved; that Professor Ilham Tohti gets to see his family and that China will have dialogue and show clemency.

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