We are deeply concerned by reports that Professor Ilham Tohti has been sentenced to life imprisonment for separatism. We understand Professor Tohti to be a respected academic who has long advocated for mutual understanding, tolerance and dialogue to promote harmony and unity between China’s diverse ethnic communities.
Given long-standing concerns about the apparently arbitrary nature of Professor Tohti’s detention, and about reports that he has been mistreated in custody, it is clearly regrettable that the trial was held behind closed doors. Without any transparency, it is hard to have confidence that proper judicial standards were upheld. We therefore continue to call for the release of Professor Tohti, of his students, and for all those detained for what appears to be the simple exercise of their constitutional right to freedom of expression, in line with China’s international human rights commitments.