Chairman Brown and Cochairman Smith Commend Ilham Tohti’s Efforts To Peacefully Promote Ethnic Minority Rights and Urge China To Drop All Charges Against Him

Congressional-Executive Commission on China |

August 1, 2014

(Washington, DC)—Uyghur scholar and rights advocate Ilham Tohti was indicted recently on charges of “separatism,” which can carry the death penalty in China.  The Chairman and Cochairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) today commend Ilham Tohti’s efforts to build understanding and dialogue between ethnic minority groups and urge the Chinese government to drop all charges against him.

“We are concerned about the indictment of Ilham Tohti on charges of separatism,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, CECC Chairman.  “Far from posing a threat, Ilham Tohti has worked to build bridges among ethnic groups. He is the sort of thoughtful advocate the Chinese government should engage, not imprison. By listening to and respecting the rights of citizens like Ilham Tohti, China can involve all of its people in dealing with the most important problems of the day.  But first, President Xi and China’s leaders must view these citizens not as threats but as people who want what’s best for their country.  We urge China to drop all charges and release Ilham Tohti.” 

“Ilham Tohti’s indictment is a clear sign that President Xi’s ‘China Dream’ does not apply to ethnic minorities,” said Congressman Chris Smith, CECC Cochairman.  “Ilham Tohti sought to bridge the divide between ethnic groups, peacefully promoting dialogue and understanding, and for this he is given the outrageous charge of separatism.  Jailing moderate voices will not create stability in restive ethnic minority areas, it only breeds more discontent.  Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Mongolians should be given a way to shape policies that affect them and preserves their unique religions, cultures, and languages.  Sadly, the silencing of voices like Ilham Tohti worsens the prospects for peace and prosperity for Han and Uyghur alike. ”