An Open Letter on Ilham Tohti’s Life

The Governments of Australia, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and the United States, and the European Council:

We are a group of students, scholars and professionals from China and Chinese-occupied territories. We call upon you to urge China to release the well-regarded Uyghur human rights leader Prof. Ilham Tohti, amid reports of students, scholars and professionals dying in concentration camps and prisons in the occupied East Turkestan.

The Chinese occupation authorities have been cracking down on Uyghurs by widespread surveillance, restriction of the use of their language, elimination of cultural and religious expressions, forcible political indoctrination, family separation and mass incarceration. Prof. Ilham criticized such oppressive policies and called for dialogue, reconciliation and the autonomy China promised. Serving a life sentence now, he has suffered physical abuse and been banned from corresponding with his family.

In China’s “re-education” camps, “training classes” and other jails, notable detainees have been tortured to death, including Prof. Halmurat Ghophur, a prominent medical scientist, Imam Muhammad Salih Hajim, the first scholar to translate the Quran into Uyghur, and at least two students who had been forced to return from Egypt. Their deaths, together with other deaths yet to be found and exposed, make us extremely concerned about Prof. Ilham’s life.

To save Prof. Ilham from today’s biggest ethnic cleansing and political murder spree, we appeal for your intense pressure on China’s anti-humanity regime. We look forward to the international community’s moral courage facing China which it used to show in the face of the Nazis.

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