Home > Media and News > PRESS RELEASE: 52nd Birthday of Prof. Ilham Tohti

For immediate release: 00:00 CET

Date: 25 October 2021

Subject: 52nd Birthday of Prof. Ilham Tohti

Contact: Enver Can, +491738912048, enver.can@web.de

The international community commemorates Professor Ilham Tohti’s 52nd birthday and raises awareness on Uyghur human rights deprivation through further communication initiatives

Today marks the 52nd birthday of Prof. Ilham Tohti, unjustly imprisoned and isolated in a single cell of the number one prison in Urumchi without friends and family, despite international outcry for his immediate and unconditional release. Thus, the international community has no official information about his whereabouts and health conditions, and his wife has not been able to see him at least for the last five consecutive years. Ilham Tohti’s daughter Jewher Ilham who lives in the USA says she doesn’t know whether her father is alive!

Ilham Tohti was unjustly sentenced to life in prison for “separatism” – a notion he vehemently opposed – in 2014 following a two-day show trial in an Urumchi Intermediate Court. Before his imprisonment, Prof. Tohti was an economist at Minzu University of China and an outspoken critic of relations between Uyghurs and the Han majority. Thus, he advocated ethnic harmony amongst nationalities including the Han and the Uyghur people.

There is no official information about his whereabouts, health and physical conditions, and his wife Güzelnur was not able to visit her husband for the last five years. Despite what the Chinese law stipulates, Ilham Tohti is not enjoying his right of visitations and is de facto kept incommunicado. This is a calculated and cruel deprivation. Observers say that the combination of reduced visits, denial of communication, gag orders, and family reprisals, have been carefully engineered to punish the Uyghur 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.

The CCP aimed to silence him through imprisonment, but the Uyghur scholar is now better known by the international community than ever before. The UN, the EU, various democratic governments, thousands of academics and human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, have condemned his imprisonment and have called for his immediate release. Additionally, Prof. Tohti has been awarded with more than 10 international human rights awards since his arrest – the most prestigious among them being the Sakharov Award for “Freedom of Thought”, which he received in 2019. He has also repeatedly been a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize since 2018.

There is also growing international concern about both the physical and mental health of Prof. Ilham Tohti, as there has not been any family visitation for the last 5 years and he has been kept incommunicado and in a solitary confinement supposedly at prison number one in Urumchi. The fact that the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo passed away in prison without proper treatment and the recent deaths of many former Uyghur inhabitants of the internment camps shortly after their release fuels the concern about the fate of Prof. Tohti.

The Ilham Tohti Initiative is commemorating the Uyghur scholars’ birthday with a panel discussion (on 26th of October) and a social media event reflecting his supporters and friends’ virtual messages. According to Enver Can, President of the Ilham Tohti Initiative, “the CCP has tried to hide the plight of the Uyghur people from the world community by imprisoning Ilham Tohti and trying to silence him behind the bars. But the world knows the truth, has awarded Ilham Tohti at least with ten international human rights prizes and parliaments of several democratic countries identified the repression of the Uyghur people as “genocide”.

Today, dozens of Ilham Tohti’s friends and supporters around the world, in their video and written messages congratulate his 52nd birthday and salute the Uyghur scholars’ engagement for the right of his people.”

Thus Ms. Margarete Bause, former member of the German Federal Parliament, in a video statement reminding that Ilham Tohti, who is innocent, has been kept in Chinese prison for the last seven years and brutally silenced behind the bars for peacefully fighting for his people rights, said, “We should not remain silent. Because his fate is the fate of millions of Uyghurs who are being tortured, suppressed and brainwashed in the so-called re-education camps.” She called on the Chinese government to announce information about his health and whereabouts, and to release Ilham Tohti immediately and unconditionally. She also urged the democracies around the world do everything possible for the crimes against humanity being committed in Xinjiang (XUAR) to not remain without consequences for the CCP.

Ms. Hanako Cho, Chief Editor of the Japanese Liberty Web version, in a written message expressing her respect and applaud to the efforts of the Uyghur scholar, says “Ilham Tohti, who was working toward the reconciliation between ethnic groups in China is the Liu Xiaobo of East Turkistan and, I believe, an angel of light. I sincerely hope that he will be able to continue to carry the hope of the Uyghur people into the future. As a journalist for The Liberty magazine, I will do my best to keep his fight alive and work and pray for the day of his liberation.”

Mark (first Name), a human rights activist from India, in his video message says: “Dear friend, we wish you a happy birthday and pray that you are safe and sound wherever you are. May Allah bless you! You are an inspiration to not only millions of Uyghurs, but also to all the oppressed communities. You are the torch bearer of resistance against brutal Chinese regime. We extend our solidarity in the struggle to push down CCP. You are suffering for the sake of millions of persecuted people and for saving the future generations. We are thankful to you for raising voice against the enemy so powerful, yet you are standing so strong, fighting hard for the humanity. May God bless you and your family strength and courage in these tough times! No to CCP! No to oppression.”

(Originals of the above statements are available upon request.)

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