China: USCIRF Condemns Harsh Sentence for Ilham Tohti

US Commission on International Religious Freedom, 25 September 2014

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the life sentence handed down to respected Uighur Muslim scholar Ilham Tohti for “separatism.”  The conditions of his detention and trial as well as his sentence clearly violate international law and call into question China’s claim to be a country based on the rule of law.

“USCIRF calls on the Chinese government to immediately and unconditionally release Ilham Tohti.  This prisoner of conscience’s sentence of life imprisonment is yet another example of the Chinese government’s attempts to suppress Uighur Muslims and others who peacefully advocate within the system for human rights and the rule of law. USCIRF also calls on the Chinese government to unconditionally release the seven students who were detained with Tohti,” said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett.

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Conviction and Sentencing of Ilham Tohti

US Secretary of State, 23 September 2014

The United States is deeply disturbed that Ilham Tohti has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Peaceful dissent is not a crime.

This harsh sentence appears to be retribution for Professor Tohti’s peaceful efforts to promote human rights for China’s ethnic Uighur citizens.

Ilham Tohti is known to the world for his many years working to foster mutual understanding, tolerance, and dialogue to peacefully promote harmony and unity between Uighurs and Han Chinese. His detention silenced an important moderate Uighur voice.

Mr. Tohti and those like him are indispensable in helping to resolve the underlying causes of unrest and violence. Silencing them can only make tensions worse.

I have raised Professor Tohti’s case repeatedly, including during the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July. Ambassador Baucus reiterated our calls for Professor Tohti’s release just last week during his visit to Xinjiang. And we again urge the Chinese authorities to release Professor Tohti, as well as his students who remain in detention.

They deserve the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China’s international human rights commitments and its own constitution.

Differentiating between peaceful dissent and violent extremism is vital to any effective efforts to counter terrorism.

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EU Statement by the Spokesperson on the sentencing of respected Uighur academic Ilham Tohti

European Union, 23 September 2014

“The EU condemns the life sentence for alleged “separatism” handed out today to Uighur economics professor Ilham Tohti, which is completely unjustified. The EU deplores that the due process of law was not respected, in particular with regard to the right to a proper defence. We call for his immediate and unconditional release as well as the release of all his supporters detained in relation to his case. We also urge the Chinese authorities to respect the rights of all persons belonging to minorities and their right to freedom of expression.”

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UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Statement on Ilham Tohti

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, 4 June 2014

A PDF copy of the statement can be found here.

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European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2013 on EU-China relations

European Parliament, 14 March 2013

The European Parliament ,

–  having regard to the establishment of diplomatic relations between the EU and China in May 1975,

–  having regard to the main legal framework for relations with China, namely the EC-China Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement(1) , signed in May 1985, which covers economic and trade relations and the EU-China cooperation programme,

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Resolution on the situation and cultural heritage in Kashgar adopted by the European Parliament

European Parliament, 10 March 2011

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to previous resolutions on China, notably those concerning human rights and minority rights, and in particular those of 26 November 2009 and 24 November 2010,

–  having regard to the 13th EU-China Summit of 6 October 2010, held in Brussels, which included the first EU-China High-Level Cultural Forum aimed at strengthening EU-China cultural dialogue and cooperation,

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, adopted by General Assembly resolution 47/135 of 18 December 1992, which stipulates that ‘[s]tates shall protect the existence and the national or ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories’,

–  having regard to Articles 4, 22 and 119 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which provide for, respectively, governmental assistance in the cultural development of regions inhabited by minority nationalities, state protection of valuable cultural monuments and relics, and the protection of the cultural legacy of the nationalities,

–  having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

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European Parliament Resolution on the Situation and Cultural Heritage in Kashgar

European Parliament Strasbourg, 10 March 2011

With this resolution, the European Parliament is publicly expressing that the Old City of Kashgar must be preserved and destruction halted. The ancient city of Kashgar, located in the very heart of the Silk Road, is not only a crucial cultural site for Uyghur identity, but part of world civilization with its unique reflections of accumulated history, tolerance and cultural diversity. The urgency resolution is both a clear and unequivocal signal to the Chinese authorities to uphold its responsibilities to preserve world heritage sites like Kashgar and the Uyghur culture, and also to stop the ongoing human rights violations against the Uyghur population in East Turkestan.

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European Parliament resolution on China: minority rights and application of the death penalty

European Parliament, 26 November 2009

The European Parliament,

–    having regard to its resolutions of 1 February 2007  and 27 September 2007  in favour of a universal moratorium on the death penalty,

–    having regard to Resolutions 62/149  and 63/168  on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2007 and 18 December 2008 respectively,

–    having regard to the declarations by the Presidency of the Union of, respectively, 29 October 2009 regarding the executions of two Tibetans, Mr Lobsang Gyaltsen and Mr Loyak, and 12 November 2009 regarding the executions of nine persons of Uighur ethnicity following the riots of 5-7 July in Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR),

–    having regard to Articles 35, 36 and 37 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which provide, respectively, that all citizens shall enjoy freedom of expression and freedom of religious belief, and deem the freedom of the person to be ‘inviolable’,

–    having regard to its previous resolutions on China and, in particular, to its resolution of 13 December 2007 on the EU-China Summit and the EU-China human rights dialogue,

–    having regard to the EU-China seminar of 18-19 November 2009 and the 20 November 2009 round of the EU-China human rights dialogue,

–    having regard to the round of the EU-China human rights dialogue held in Prague on 14 May 2009,

–    having regard to the forthcoming EU-China Summit to be held on 30 November 2009 in Nanjing,

–    having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

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