China: Uyghur PEN member, writer and academic Ilham Tohti formally charged with separatism

English PEN is seriously concerned for the well-being of 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’. The charge of ‘splittism’ carries a penalty of between 10 years’ to life imprisonment, or even the death penalty.

PEN believes that Tohti is held for peacefully exercising his right to free expression and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Please join us. 

For further information, please visit the PEN International website.

TAKE ACTION

Send appeals to Chinese Embassies:

  • Expressing concern at  the crackdown on Chinese Uyghurs critical of the government, in particular the arrest and subsequent charges laid against Uyghur writer and academic Ilham Tohti;
  • Calling for Ilham Tohti’s 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’.

A sample letter is provided below but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.

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 also recommend that you write to the Chinese embassy in the UK asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments.

His Excellency Mr Liu Xiaoming
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
31 Portland Place
London
W1B 1QD
Fax: 020 7636 2981
[ecampaign ‘to=political@chinese-embassy.org.uk‘ subject=”In support of writer Ilham Tohti”]

Your Excellency

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to express my grave concern for writer Ilham Tohti.
According to PEN’s information, writer, academic and Uyghur PEN member Ilham Tohti 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 also been formally charged with ‘splittism’ and ‘revealing state secrets’.
I believe that Ilham Tohti is being held for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and am therefore calling for his immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China which provides for freedom of speech and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which China is signatory. Furthermore, I urge the authorities to reveal where he is being held as a matter of urgency.
I would welcome your comments on my appeal.
Yours sincerely

[/ecampaign]

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

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