Ilham Tohti, an Economics professor formerly at Minzu University in Beijing, and an advocate for the rights of the Chinese Uighur community, still sits in jail, sentenced to a life in prison for expressing his beliefs in a peaceful way. CCS has written again to President Xi Jinping asking him to please investigate this case and release Ilham Tohti as well as the other individuals that are in prison as a result of this case.
April 7, 2016
President Xi Jinping
The State Council General’s Office
People’s Republic of China
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write today to express our continuing concerns around the case of Ilham Tohti, an Economics professor at the Minzu University in Beijing and an advocate for the rights of the Chinese Uighur community. Prof. Tohti was sentenced to life in prison after a two-day trial (that was closed to the public and at which he was not allowed to call witnesses in his defense). His conviction for “separatism” occurred in September of 2014 and was followed later that year by the sentencing of 7 of his students to prison terms on the same charge. In 2015, Ilham Tohti’s lawyer, Wang Yu, was detained, and, in January of this year, she was formally charged with “subversion of state power”.
This succession of arrests and criminal charges stem from Ilham Tohti peacefully exercising his fundamental right to free expression, a right guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. Furthermore, the trial of Ilham Tohti appears to have lacked due process that is required under Chinese law. The charging of his lawyer adds to the appearance that the legal proceedings against Professor Tohti have been fundamentally unfair and have conflicted with both international human rights and Chinese legal standards.
We are, again, writing to urge you to reverse the conviction of Ilham Tohti and to reconsider imposing harsh sentences on those who peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression.
Thank you for addressing our concerns. We look forward to a quick and informative response.
Sincerely,Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich,
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
- Ilham Tohti archive (concernedscientists.org)