Uygur professor battles for his people: Outspoken activist vows to fight on until Uygurs in China get rights and respect
Originally published by South China Morning Post, 31 May 2010
By Ng Tze-wei
Most people learned the name of Beijing-based Uygur professor Ilham Tohti only after he was detained following the deadly riots in Urumqi last July. His Xinjiang -focused Chinese-language website, uighurbiz.cn, was attacked by authorities for “inciting propaganda and spreading rumours”.
But Tohti, 41, said he had actually begun writing about the plight of Uygurs 17 years ago, and different forms of government surveillance and harassment had been a fixture of his and his family’s lives ever since.
The two-month detention (at his home and at hotels with all external communication severed) last year was the longest he had experienced; normally it was just hours and hours of “chat” from dusk till dawn, which exhausted him. And occasionally it could almost be considered comical: he was banned at the last minute from attending an academic conference in Turkey last month, and in exchange, he and his family were “treated to a holiday in Hainan “, accompanied at all times by three government security guards, who were very polite and even apologetic. The professor was allowed to return to Beijing 10 days later, after the conference had ended.Continue Reading →