China: Uyghur PEN member, writer and academic Ilham Tohti formally charged with ‘splittism’


Update 1# to RAN 03/14  27 February 2014

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China: Uyghur PEN member, writer and academic Ilham Tohti formally charged with ‘splittism’; fears for safety

tohtiPEN International is seriously concerned for the well-being of Uyghur writer, academic and Uyghur PEN member, Ilham Tohti, who was formally charged with “splittism” on 20 February 2014, amid a crackdown on Chinese Uyghurs critical of the government. His wife received formal notification of the charges on 25 February.

Arrested at his home on 15 January 2014, Tohti remains detained incommunicado in an Urumqi detention centre. His lawyer has yet to be granted access to his client. Three of Tohti’s students arrested around the same time, have been formally charged with “splittism” and “revealing state secrets”. PEN believes that Tohti is held for peacefully exercising his right to free expression and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

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Send appeals to Chinese Embassies:

  • Expressing concern at  the crackdown on Chinese Uyghurs crtical of the government, in particular the arrest and subsequent charges laid against Uyghur writer and academic Ilham Tohti, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release;
  • Urging the authorities to reveal where he is being held and seeking assurances of his well-being;
  • Reminding the Chinese authorities that Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for freedom of speech and that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”.

Send appeals to:

President
XI Jinping Guojia Zhuxi
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Xichengqu, Beijingshi 100017
People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025
Email: gov@govonline.cn
Salutation: Your Excellency

Premier
LI Keqiang Guojia Zongli
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Xichengqu, Beijingshi 100017,
People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025
Email: gov@govonline.cn
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Director of Department of Justice
Abuliz Usour Tingzhang
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu Sifating
27 Renminlu
Urumqi 830
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu
People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 99 1231 1590

We recommend that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments. See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country Chinese embassies abroad

**Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 28 March 2014** Please keep us informed of any action you take in regard to Ilham Tohti’s case, including any responses you receive from the authorities.

Background
On 15 January 2014, Uyghur writer and academic, Ilham Tohti, was arrested by authorities at his home in Beijing. An official arrest warrant and notification of the charges presented to his wife on 25 February indicates that Tohti has been charged with ‘splittism’ and is being held in an Urumqi detention centre. His lawyer, Li Fangping, has yet to be allowed access to his client. In a public statement posted at the time of his arrest by the Bureau of Public Security for Urumqi it was alleged that Tohti had recruited followers through Uyghur Online – a website he founded in 2006. Tohti had reportedly recently expressed fears on Uyghur Online about increased pressure on Uyghurs following the Tiananmen Square car bomb attack in October 2013. The detention of Ilham Tohti came shortly after the Communist Party of China launched a new “grand strategic plan” for the XUAR on 19 December 2013. This new plan pledged to make “maintaining social stability” the primary strategic goal within the XUAR.

Three of Tohti’s students arrested around the same time as Tohti have been formally charged while the whereabouts of a further two remain unknown. According to reports, Perhat Halmurat and Shohret Tursun were formally charged with “splittism,” while Abdukeyum Ablimit has been charged with “revealing state secrets” on 24 February. The exact whereabouts of the trio are unknown, however, they are thought to be being held in detention facilities in Urumqi. The whereabouts of Mutellip Imin and Atikem Rozi remain unknown, as do any charges laid against them. Both Halmurat and Imin, who worked with Tohti on the website Uyghur Online, were briefly detained in late 2013 as they tried to return to their studies abroad.

The charge of “splittism” carries a penalty of between 10 years’ to life imprisonment, or even the death penalty.

For more information on Tohti’s case please see previous RAN.

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann@pen-international.org

Cathy McCann/ Researcher / PEN International
Brownlow House
50-51 High Holborn
London WC1V 6ER.
t. +44 (0)20 7405 0338 | f. +44 (0)20 7405 0339 | e.
Twitter | Facebook | www.pen-international.org

 

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