PRESS RELEASE  (11 July 2018, Odelzhausen - GERMANY)

Contact: Enver Can

Mobile: 0049 - 17389123048

 

  The Ilam Tohti Initiative (ITI) is relieved about the release of Liu Xia for medical treatment and hopes the freedoom of other prisoners of conscience, including imprisoned Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti will follow soon.

   The Chinese foreign Ministery confirmed Tuesday that Liu Xia, the widow of late Nobel Peace Prize laureat Liu Xiaobo was on her way to Germany for medical treatment. The 57-year-old poet and artist had been under house arrest since 2010, the same year Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Prize while in jail. Liu Xiaobo died in hospital last year (July 13) as the first Chinese Nobel Peace Prize Winner to die in costudy.

   A high ranking Chinese delegation led by Prime Minister Li Keqiang had economic talks in Berlin on Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the talks, Li Keqiang (against the outcry of international human rights organisations) claimed that the human rights situation in China had improved and reiterated his willingness to contineue the dialogue on the subject with Germany. Tough the Chinese Foreign Ministery denied any linkage betwen Liu Xia's release and Li Keqiangs' talks with Angela Merkel, it is not a co-incident that she was released just hours after the Berlin meeting. The German Chancellor has been repeatedly asking the Chinese leadership to release Liu Xia and other political prisoners including Ilham Tohti.

    Enver Can, chairman of the ITI, believing Ms. Merkel played an important role in securing

 Liu Xia's release, today sent a letter to the German Chancellor thanking her for her engagement for human rights in China. Mr. Can, in his letter also urged Ms. Merkel to continue her efforts to achieve Prof. Ilham Tohti's release for medical treatment in Germany.

    The Ilham Tohti Initiative was established two years ago to campaign for the freedom of Ilham Tohti and to promote his ideas for a dialogue and co-existance amongst ethnicities in China including Uyghurs and Han.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

 January 15, 2018

 

Today, on the fourth anniversary of  his detention and arrest, the Ilham Tohti Initiative (ITI) calls on Chinese government  to immediately and unconditionally release imprisoned Uyghur academic, Prof. Ilham Tohti.

  Ilham Tohti is serving a life sentence solely for expressing ideas that fell well within the boundaries of freedom of expression as an academic and writer. He was taken away from his home in Beijing on 15 January 2014 and found guilty of “separatism” on 23 September 2014, after a politicized trial that was marred by numerous procedural irregularities and sentenced to life in prison merely for his attempts at bringing the Uyghur and Chinese communities closer together. In words and actions, Ilham Tohti has for years promoted peace and dialogue between the Han Chinese and Uyghur communities and implementation of regional Autonomy Laws. Thus, Ilham Tohti is a prisoner of conscience, who is being cruelly punished for peacefully challenging the Chinese government’s policies towards ethnic minorities.

   In order to make the economic, social and developmental issues confronting the Uyghurs known to China’s wider population, Ilham Tohti established the Chinese-language website Uyghurbiz.net in 2006 to foster dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and Chinese on the Uyghur Issue. Over the course of its existence it was shut down periodically and people writing for it were harassed. Ilham Tohti has adamantly rejected separatism and sought reconciliation by bringing to light Uyghur grievances, information the Chinese state has sought to keep behind a veil of silence. As a result of his efforts he was sentenced to life in prison in September 2014 following a two-day show trial. Despite political persecution in the years leading up to his trial, he remained a voice of moderation and reconciliation.

   Though the Chinese authorities wanted to silence his voice with a lifetime imprisonment,  Ilham Tohti and his ideas on peacefull co-existsnce and dialogue amongst all etnicities living in China, including Uyghurs and the Han, are now much better known by the world community then before and commended. Ilham Tohti is the recipient of the Barbara Goldsmith “Freedom to Write” Award from the PEN America Center in 2014, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2016;  of the Liberal International's Prize For Freedom 2017 and Human Rights Award from the city of Weimar, Germany 2017. He was one of the four finalists for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2016.

   Prof. Tohti has been kept in the No. 1 Prison of Urumqi since December 2014. In spite of what the Chinese law stipulates, he is not enjoying his right of proper 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. We are especially concerned about the reports that his wife and children would not be allowed to visit him during the current year of 2018.

  The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), in an opinion adopted between April 22 and May 1, 2014 found that, “The deprivation of Mr. Tohti is arbitrary, being in contravention of articles 9, 10, 11, 18, 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and urged the government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation, which include the immediate release of Mr. Tohti and to grant him compensation for the harm he has suffered during the period of his arbitrary detention”.

   We call on the Chinese government to unconditionally release Prof. Ilham Tohti and his students and urge the International Community, including the UN human Rights Institutions,  the governments, the European Union and all human rights NGOs to  press for his freedom.

 Contact: Enver Can, Tel: -49-1738912048

 

Press Release
September 23, 2017

Today ( 23rd September) Uyghurs commemorate with sorrow the third anniversary of Prof. Ilham Tohti's sentencing to life imprisonment for wanting the implementation of the Autonomy Laws in the Chinese Constitution, ethnic harmony and dialogue between Uyghurs and the Han.

  Prof. Tohti began his studies in 1985 at the institution that is today the Central Minzu University in Beijing, known for minority studies. He eventually became a faculty member at the same university and a recognized expert on economic and social issues pertaining to Xinjiang and Central Asia. As a scholar, he has been forthright about problems and abuses in Xinjiang, and his work led to official surveillance and harassment that began as early as 1994. From time to time he was barred from teaching, and after 1999 he was unable to publish in normal venues.

  In order to make the economic, social and developmental issues confronting the Uyghurs known to China’s wider population, Ilham Tohti established the Chinese-language website Uyghurbiz.net in 2006 to foster dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and Chinese on the Uyghur Issue. Over the course of its existence it was shut down periodically and people writing for it were harassed. Ilham Tohti has adamantly rejected separatism and sought reconciliation by bringing to light Uyghur grievances, information the Chinese state has sought to keep behind a veil of silence. As a result of his efforts he was sentenced to life in prison in September 2014 following a two-day show trial. Despite political persecution in the years leading up to his trial, he remained a voice of moderation and reconciliation.

   In words and actions, Ilham Tohti has for years promoted peace and dialogue between the Han Chinese and Uyghur communities. He opposed separatism, the use of terror to voice grievances, and any act that fans ethnic animus, as well as government policies that undermine the Uyghur language and economically marginalize the Uyghur people. As a Uyghur intellectual specializing in Xinjiang issues and Central Asian sociology, economics, and geopolitics, he took it upon himself to criticize current affairs concerning Xinjiang and its people, faithfully fulfilling the duty of a public intellectual. 

  Ilham Tohti is the recipient of the Barbara Goldsmith “Freedom to Write” Award from the PEN America Center in 2014, and the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2016. He was one of the four finalists for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2016. Ilham Tohti is the recipient of the Liberal International's Prize For Freedom scheduled on November 30th 2017 at The Hague, Netherland, and the 2017 Human Rights Award from the city of Weimar scheduled on December 12th 2017, Germany.

  Prof. Tohti has been kept in the No. 1 Prison of Urumqi since December 2014. In spite of the Chinese law stipulates, he is not enjoying his right of proper 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.

  We call on the Chinese government to unconditionally release Prof. Ilham Tohti and his students and urge the International Community, including the UN human Rights Institutions, the governments, the European Union and all human rights NGOs to press for his freedom.

Enver Can

Presseerklärung

29. Juli 2017

 

The Ilham Tohti Initiative condemns the brief detention of Mr. Dolkun Isa, the General Secretary of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), on 26th of July in Rome and urges the Italian government to clarify the exact reason behind this action. Mr. Isa was on his way to the Italian Senate to attend a Conference on the human rights situation of the Uyghur people when he was approached by 15 to 20 General Investigations and Special Operations Division (DIGOS) officers. They took him to the police Station and released a few hours later after questioning.

However, this not the first such incident: Mr Isa’s detention came less than three months after he was removed from a United Nations forum in New York by security guards without explanation on April 26th. Two days later, he was again denied entry to take part in a forum hosted by the UNPO. Mr. Isa was also denied entry to South Korea and has been arrested on 15th of September 2009 at the airport in Seoul.  

But Mr. Isa's detention in a EU member state is the last drop filling the bottle. Mr Isa is a German citizen. Thus, Mr. Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman of the WUC says in a statement that detention of a human rights activist in a EU member state , on China's request, is both shocking and unacceptable. Responding to a question by Mr. Isa, as to why he was detained, the DIGOS officers informed him that they had been acting upon a request from the Chinese authorities.

 Interpol has issued an international alert on Mr Isa several years ago based on what he called a “politically motivated and baseless request” by the Chinese government, and the alert was later rejected by the German authorities, who viewed it as a “political warrant,” he told the DIGOS officers.
In November last year, China’s Deputy Minister of Public Security Meng Hongwei was elected president of Interpol, which in turn raised concern by international human rights bodies that China might use the position to her own adwantage.

The Ilham Tohti Initiative is both worried about the long arm of China being extended to democratic countries in Europe and the ever increasing influence which Beijing is practicing in some EU member states. Thus the ITI calls the Italian government not to ever let the Chinese government interfere with its internal issues.

 Enver Can, Contact : -49-1738912048

 

Presseerklärung

27. Juni 2017

Die Ilham Tohti Initiative begrüßt die Freilassung des chinesischen Friedensnobelpreisträgers Liu Xiaobo, damit er sich einer Behandlung seiner Krebserkrankung unterziehen kann, macht aber zugleich die chinesische Regierung für seinen schlechten Gesundheitszustand verantwortlich. Wir sind überzeugt, dass die chinesische Führung mit seiner Freilassung lediglich der Kritik der internationalen Gemeinschaft zuvorkommen wollte, für den Fall er im Gefängnis seiner Krankheit erlegen wäre.

  Die internationale Gemeinschaft muss Peking dringend an seine Verantwortung mahnen, ehe alle zum Schweigen gebracht werden, die es wie Liu Xiaobo und Ilham Tohti zu sagen wagen, dass die Achtung der Menschenrechte, Demokratie, Rechtsstaatlichkeit und Umsetzung der bestehenden Gesetze China zu einer stärkeren, erfolgreicheren und höher angesehenen Weltmacht werden ließen.

 

SOCIETY FOR THREATENED PEOPLES – PRESS RELEASE

Göttingen / Munich, February 15, 2017

Munich Security Conference (February 17 to 19): New violence in the north-west of China

More commitment to human rights of the Uyghurs needed!

In the run-up to the Munich Security Conference, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) and the Ilham-Tohti Initiative have appealed to Chancellor Angela Merkel to show commitment for the Uyghur people in China. “The north-west of China is a powder keg. Without human rights for the Uyghurs, there will be no stability and security there,” explained Ulrich Delius, the STP’s Asia expert, in Göttingen on Wednesday. On Tuesday night, eight people lost their lives in a knife attack committed by Uyghurs, and ten people were injured. “If China’s leaders are really aiming to take effective measures to tackle violence and hopelessness among the Uyghurs, they must show willingness to enter a serious dialogue with the indigenous population group. An important step to try and make Xinjiang / East Turkestan safer and more stable could be to finally release the political prisoner Professor Ilham Tohti,” said Enver Can of the Ilham-Tohti Initiative in Munich.

   On Tuesday night, it had become known that – in the Guma district (“Pishan” in Chinese) in Hotan Prefecture – the police had gunned down three Uyghurs who were armed with knives. According to official reports, the attackers had fatally injured five people. Six Uyghurs were arrested following the incident, among them two young people who had exchanged news about the violence via their mobile phones. In East Turkestan, the dissemination of non-official information concerning such incidents or acts of violence is punishable and can lead to imprisonment of up to two years.

   The issue of security and stability in East Asia will also be discussed at the Munich Security Conference. In the letter to the Federal Chancellor, the STP and the Ilham-Tohti Initiative called for more attention regarding the escalating security and human rights situation in the north-west of China. “Those who choose to ignore the cycle of violence and counter-violence in East Turkestan are short-sighted, and they indirectly create new tensions,” Delius stated.

   The Uyghur economic expert Ilham Tohti, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014, had always tried to mediate between the Uyghur people and the Han Chinese: “Hi credibly tried to find a solution to the conflict and to advocate for the Uyghurs’ human rights. Tohti must be released!” said Can.

   In case of further questions, please contact Ulrich Delius at +49 (0)160 – 95 67 1403 or Enver Can at +49 (0)173 – 89 12 048

 

 

                                              PRESS  RELEASE

 

 5 February 2017, Karlsfeld - Germany

 

The Ilham Tohti Initiative commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the victims of 

massacre in Gulja, (Yinning) Uyghur Autonomous region with dismay, in which  more than 100 Uyghurs were killed by the Chinese security forces after they oponed fire on peacefull demonstrators on 5th  February 1997. The demonstration was held to call for an end of the  religious repression and   ethnic discriminitation. The Chinese authorities after repressing  the demonstrations brutally, subsequently  detained and arrested up to 4 000 people, more than 200 of them were sentenced to death in show trials and executed following two years. 90  Uyghurs were sentenced to long-year prison terms.

   Ever since the Chinese authorities continued their heavy handed policy of repression. Especially during  the last three years, under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the international community has witnessed the significant downward spiral in human rights protections for the Uyghur community. Despite continued efforts from human rights organizations, activists, academics and politicians, the rights of Uyghurs in China and abroad are disappearing even more quickly.

   We have also witnessed China’s passing of the National Security Law and the Anti-Terrorism Act over the past year. The Anti-Terrorism Act has been recognized by Human Rights Watch and other groups as a tool to further repress the Uyghur and Tibetan people in particular. This incredibly broad legislation will now allow the government to legally use the threat of terrorism as a justification for the violation of the human rights of all Uyghurs.

   On the ground in East Turkestan, Uyghurs are faced with restrictions on cultural and religious expression as well as freedom of movement, a nearly complete lack of legal rights, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances by the state, under the new laws the rights of the Uyghur people is beibng further eroded  and discrimination that leads to poor economic outcomes when compared with the Han population living there.

   Prof. Ilham Tohti who encouraged  dialogue among ethnicities, including Uyghurs and the Han, had  called for the  implementation of the existing Autonomy Laws to ease the tense situtation was arrested in January of  2014 and subsequently  sentenced to life time prison. Mr. Enver Can, president of the Ilham Tohti Initiative,  called the  Chinese authorities to stop arbitrary persecution of Uyghur people in general and to immediately release Prof. Ilham Tohti who had asked for the implementation of the constitionally guaranteed Autonomy right.