News / Asia

Activists Call for China to Free Uighur Academic

FILE - Outspoken Uighur scholar and advocate Ilham Tohti speaks during an interview at his home in Beijing.
FILE - Outspoken Uighur scholar and advocate Ilham Tohti speaks during an interview at his home in Beijing.
VOA News
Chinese activists have started a petition calling for the immediate release of detained scholar Ilham Tohti, a prominent critic of Beijing's harsh treatment of Uighurs in western China.

Tohti, himself a Uighur, was taken by police during a raid on his home Wednesday. Authorities have not announced any charges against him, though China's foreign ministry says he is "under suspicion of committing crimes."

A petition posted on the website of Woeser, a Tibetan activist, called for China to either free Tohti or provide proof of wrongdoing. As of Tuesday, over 1,100 people had signed the petition, including many in China.

Meanwhile, Chinese state media have published several editorials slamming Tohti. The Communist Party's Global Times on Saturday accused him of advocating separatism in China's Xinjiang province and "attempting to find a moral excuse for terrorists."

The 45-year-old Tohti, an economics professor at the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing, has been detained or harassed several times in the past because of his views.

Tohti told VOA in November plain-clothes police rammed his car, took his phone, and threatened to kill him because of his comments to the media.

He regularly criticizes what he views as China's heavy-handed policies in the western Xinjiang region, where Beijing claims it is fighting foreign-backed separatists.

Human rights groups and exiled Uighurs say China is exaggerating the threat in order to justify its repression of Muslim religious life.

Uighurs are a mostly Muslim Turkic ethnic minority group. They complain of government discrimination resulting from a large influx of majority Han Chinese to Xinjiang.

Beijing has blamed much of Xinjiang's recent unrest on what it calls Uighur terrorists. It claims the terrorists are affiliated with the banned East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and trained in neighboring Pakistan.

The U.S. State Department designated ETIM as a terrorist group following the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. China has warned the group has connections to al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden.

Tohti had questioned those links, telling VOA in 2011 that anyone "who thinks they can connect Osama bin Laden to the Uighurs should just shut their mouths if they are smart enough."

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid