Ten years since arrest, SAR calls for release of Professor Tohti

Posted January 15, 2024

Professor Ilham Tohti was arrested ten years ago today for promoting dialogue and reconciliation between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. Scholars at Risk demands his immediate release.

Professor Tohti is a scholar of economics who taught at the Central Minzu University in Beijing and an advocate for the rights of Uyghurs. On January 15, 2014, police raided Professor Tohti’s home, where they seized computers, cell phones, passports, and student essays, and arrested him. In March 2014, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found his detention to be arbitrary. After being held in incommunicado detention for months, on July 30, 2014, Professor Tohti was formally charged with separatism, on the basis of his teachings at the university and his published writings on his site, “Uighurbiz.net”, which served as a platform to engage Uyghurs and Han Chinese in dialogue. On September 23, 2014, after a closed two-day trial, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court found Professor Tohti guilty of separatism and sentenced him to life in prison. Chinese authorities have not publicly disclosed any evidence against Professor Tohti beyond his articles, interviews, and lectures, raising serious concerns about his trial and conviction. SAR is further concerned about reports of continued limitations of family and lawyer visits to Professor Tohti.

SAR urges Chinese authorities to immediately release Professor Tohti; to ensure that any charges or convictions related to his peaceful academic activities are reversed; and that, in the interim, his access to family is ensured and his case is addressed in a manner consistent with internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and detention, in accordance with China’s obligations under international law.

TAKE ACTION: Sign SAR’s letter of appeal in support of Professor Tohti.

READ MORE: Read Professor Tohti’s daughter’s books about her advocacy on his behalf.
1) Jewher Ilham: A Uyghur’s Fight to Free Her Father, November 2015
2) Because I Have To: The Path to Survival, The Uyghur Struggle, January 2022