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Third Anniversary of Ilham Tohti’s Sentencing

October 10, 2017 by admin

September 23rd, 2017, marked the third anniversary of Uyghur academic and economist Ilham Tohti’s unjust life sentence.

Three years have yielded little in terms of improving the conditions in which Tohti is confined, which have included the deprivation of his right to family visits (less than one hour every three months) and even the right to communicate with family and friends.

Tohti is a prominent Uyghur academic who served as a professor of economics at Minzu University and revered for establishing Uyghur Online, a website dedicated to promoting Uyghur human rights and improving relations between Uyghurs and Han. He has been recognized by the international community for his staunch opposition to violence, and continued support for Uyghur-Han dialogue and understanding.

Tohti was arrested in January 2014 for, “committing crimes and violating the law,” and for “spreading separatist ideas,” “inciting ethnic hatred” and “advocat[ing] Xinjiang independence” shortly thereafter. Tohti was convicted on September 23, 2014 to life in prison after a two-day trial for “advocating separatism” in a trial that was described as “a farce” by the PEN American Center. Amnesty International called the sentence “deplorable” with “no basis in reality” with Human Rights Watch stating that his trial amounted to “an injustice of the highest order.” Tohti’s appeal was subsequently denied in November 2014.

Tohti was officially nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in September 2016, was awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders the same year, and won the 2017 Human Rights Prize from the city of Weimar, Germany.

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