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China Change, September 22, 2017 We believe that the combination of reduced visits, denial of communication, gag orders, and family reprisals, have been carefully engineered to punish the Uighur scholar with degrading treatment and psychological torture, while at the same time keeping the attention on his plight from the outside world to a minimum.   September 23, 2017, marks the 3rd anniversary of the Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti’s sentencing to life in prison for peacefully speaking out for the economic, cultural, political and religious rights of the 10 million Uighur people inhabiting the northwestern region known as Xinjiang. A Summary of the Case Ilham Tohti is the most renowned Uighur intellectual in the People’s Republic of China. For over two decades he has worked tirelessly […]


Han Lianchao, September 28, 2016     Some young Chinese friends of mine often criticize me for getting mixed up with the Dalai Lama. They say he’s a separatist element who’s trying to split Tibet from China. I don’t blame them for this, as I once understood things pretty much the same way they do. It’s only after having more opportunities to observe and interact with the Dalai Lama at close range and having more frequent interactions with Tibetans that my brainwashed thinking has gradually begun to change. My answer to these young people is this: Contrary to what the Chinese Communist Party says in their propaganda, the Dalai Lama is no separatist. I recently heard His Holiness the Dalai Lama deliver a lengthy discussion […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: February 24, 2016   Ilham Tohti, the renowned Uighur scholar who was sentenced to life in prison on charges of “splitting the country” has been denied visitation by his family over the Chinese New Year. Reports had earlier indicated that Ilham’s brother would be visiting him in prison on February 18, but according to his friend, Beijing-based dissident Hu Jia, speaking to Voice of America, Ilham’s brother was effectively denied permission. Hu Jia learnt of the news through Ilham’s wife. Given the lack of further information about the reasons for the denial, supporters are worried about Ilham’s physical and mental health. Hu Jia visited Ilham’s wife and children twice recently, taking the the two boys to a science and technology museum […]


Translation published: January 15, 2016 Ilham Tohti was an economics professor at Minzu University in Beijing and the foremost Uighur public intellectual in the People’s Republic of China. He was sentenced to life in prison in September 2014 for criticizing the government’s policies in Xinjiang and advocating basic economic, cultural, religious and political rights for the Uighur people. The translation is based on the Chinese transcript of a VOA interview with Ilham Tohti in November 2013, shortly after the car crash of a Uighur family in Tiananmen Square on October 28, 2013, and less than three months before his detention on January 15, 2014. You may also want to watch our 32-minute documentary about Ilham Tohti. – The Editors   BEIJING – The Chinese government has included Xinjiang and Tibet […]


China Change, published: October 16, 2015   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 […]


By Ilham Tohti, translated by Cindy Carter, published: May 19, 2015 Continued from I. Unemployment, II. Bilingual Education, III. Religion, IV. Ethnic Alienation and Segregation, V.  Distrust of Ethnic Minority Officials and Intellectuals, VI. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, and VII. Governmental Competence and Credibility   VIII. Han Chinese Chauvinism Overview The preamble to the Chinese Constitution once read: “In the struggle to safeguard national unity, we must oppose Han chauvinism, as well as combat ethnic nationalism.” In the Mao era, the two phrases “ethnic nationalism” and “Han chauvinism” would often appear together in discussions of ethnic relations, but today, the phrase “Han chauvinism” has completely disappeared from everyday conversation. Our government has always proclaimed its opposition to “Han chauvinism” as well as “ethnic nationalism,” yet virtually […]


By Ilham Tohti, translated by Cindy Carter, published: April 23, 2015   Continued from I. Unemployment II. Bilingual Education Overview Besides unemployment, the issue that provokes the most intense reaction within Xinjiang’s Uighur community is the issue of bilingual education. In practice, “bilingual education” in Xinjiang has essentially become “monolingual education” (i.e. Mandarin-only education.) Within the Uighur community, there is a widespread belief that the government intends to establish an educational system based on written Chinese and rooted in the idea of “one language, one origin.” Suspicions abound that the government is using administrative means to exterminate Uighur culture and accelerate ethnic and cultural assimilation. With the mandatory implementation of so-called “bilingual education,” the Uighur language has become steadily marginalized, not only in the field of […]


By Ilham Tohti, translated by Cindy Carter, published: April 22, 2015   This article, a total of 24,000 words in Chinese, was first posted on the Daxiong Gonghui (“大象公会”) website after the Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti’s arrest in January, 2014. Daxiong Gonghui described the origin of the article in a note: “This document was written by Ilham Tohti, associate professor of economics at Minzu University of China (formerly Central Nationalities University), in response to a 2011 request from high-level officials in the Chinese government. Ilham Tohti made first-draft revisions to this document in October of 2013, but was unable to complete a final draft.” The post has since been censored and is only available elsewhere as a repost. I was able to confirm the origin and the […]


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 […]


By Ilham Tohti, published: September 17, 2014 The Uighur economics professor, and founder of Uighurbiz website, is on trial today in Urumqi on separatism charges. The following excerpts were compiled by Ilham’s close friend and Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser in February this year shortly after his arrest. – The editor Currently in Xinjiang, a developing tendency is that the authorities are over-extending anti-terrorism measures to conceal other problems in their name, including the incompetence of both the local governments and the security maintenance apparatus. In fact, the biggest problem in Xinjiang is not anti-terrorism, nor is it terrorism, but rather, the problem is that political power is unrestrained, unequal, controlled and monopolized by the very groups that profit from it. ——- I’ve seen this in […]


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