Home > Media and News > Press Release > PRESS RELEASE: Eighth Anniversary of Prof. Ilham Tohti’s Arrest

For immediate release: 10:00 CET

Date: 15 January 2022

Subject: Eighth Anniversary of Prof. Ilham Tohti’s Arrest

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

The Ilham Tohti Initiative while commemorating the Eighth anniversary of Prof. Ilham Tohti’s Arrest with growing concern about health and whereabouts of the Uyghur scholar, urgently calls the Chinese government to release him immediately and unconditionally. The Initiative at the same time urges the international community , including the USA and the EU to put more pressure on China to secure Ilham Tohti’s release and to stop increased violations of human rights of Uyghurs which amounts to crimes against humanity and “Genocide” against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in the Uyghur Autonomous Region.

llham Tohti is the most renowned Uyghur public intellectual in the People’s Republic of China. For over two decades he has worked tirelessly to foster dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and Chinese over the present-day repressive religious, cultural and political conditions of the Uyghur people. As a result of his efforts he was sentenced in September, 2014, to life in prison following a two-day show trial.

Some Uyghur observers say, that Ilham Tohti saw the signs of today’s “ethnic genocide” against Uyghur people in advance and warned the Chinese government to take precaution measures to prevent deterioration. But, the opposite happened: The Chinese government, instead of utilizing Ilham Tohti’s proposals, tried to silence him behind the bars.

There is no official information about his whereabouts, health and physical conditions of Ilham Tohti, and his wife Güzelnur was not able to visit her husband for the last five years. Despite the Chinese law stipulates, he 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 denial of visits, 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 his plight away from international attention.

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 repeatedly 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 Prize for “Freedom of Thought”, which he was awarded in 2019. He has also repeatedly been a candidate for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

As the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Lio Xiaobo had died at the Chinese prison without proper medical treatment, says Mr. Enver Can, the founding President of the Initiative, ”the Uyghur people around the world are deeply concerned about both mental and physical health for their imprisoned scholar”. Therefore, he calls the world Community, especially the US and the EU to put more pressure on China to announce information about whereabouts of Ilham Tohti, allow family visitations and to achieve his immediate release.

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