2014-06-16 Central Minzu University

June 16, 2014
Killings, Violence, Disappearances / Imprisonment / Prosecution / Other
Ongoing Incident
Region/Sub-region: Country or Territory: 
Central Minzu University

According to reports, Ilham Tohti, an economics professor and advocate for the rights of the Chinese Uighur minority who has been in the custody of Chinese authorities since January 15, has been tried and sentenced in secret, in connection with charges of separatism or inciting separatism.  Neither Professor Tohti's lawyer, nor his family, were notified of the proceeding.

As of this report, Professor Tohti's whereabouts remain unknown.  He has reportedly not been allowed to see or communicate with his attorney, Li Fangping, for several months.  On June 16, Mr. Li reported that he had learned from two unnamed sources that his client had been tried and convicted in secret the night before.  The Chinese government would not confirm or deny these reports.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the incommunicado detention and reported secret trial and sentencing of a professor -- without access to counsel or family -- apparently as a result of scholarly and nonviolent expressive activity.  State officials are obligated to comply with internationally recognized standards of due process and fair trial, including the right to counsel and the right to a fair and public hearing.  State officials also have a responsibility not to interfere with the right of free expression, so long as it is exercised peacefully and responsibly. Intimidation, detention or prosecution aimed at limiting free expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally. 

UPDATE:  Following initial publication of this report, Professor Tohti's lawyer confirmed that no trial had taken place, and that the case was transferred to the public prosecutor's office in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province. Scholars at Risk understands that he is still being denied access to counsel and family. 

To view related reports, please click here and here.