China: Violating Human Rights of Minorities

China: Violating Human Rights of Minorities 26 February 2014
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Tohti’s wife, Guzaili Nu’er, and his mother Nasipuhan at their home in Beijing.

IGO condemns China’s decision to formally arrest a prominent scholar from the Uighur Muslim ethnic group and charging him with “separatism”.

Ilham Tohti, an economics professor in Beijing, has been critical of China’s ethnic policies. He was detained by police and his family had received no news of him since his arrest at his Beijing home on 15 January. His wife Guzaili Nu’er, said she received an arrest warrant and notice of the secession charges yesterday- more than a month after he was arrested. He was being detained in Xinjiang.

She told Reuters news agency the charges were “ridiculous”. “He’s never done anything like this. He is a teacher,” she said. Mr Tohti’s lawyer, Li Fangping, said he had travelled to Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, to see his client, but had been denied access so far.

Mr Tohti has been critical of China’s treatment of the Uighurs and recently expressed fears on his website about increased pressure on the minority group following last October’s deadly attack in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

China has restricted Mr Tohti’s movements on several occasions since deadly ethnic rioting in Urumqi in 2009 that left about 200 people dead.

In January, the US State Department said Mr Tohti’s detention appeared “to be part of a disturbing pattern of arrests and detentions of public interest lawyers, internet activists, journalists, religious leaders and others who peacefully challenge official Chinese policies and actions”.

IGO urges China to end the unlawful detention of Mr. Tohti and calls on the government to respect his freedom of expression and movement. IGO demands that China protect the interests of its minority communities in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.