Write for Rights at UCV - Dec 11, 2016

Peaceful activist jailed for life

Ilham Tohti worked tirelessly to build bridges between ethnic communities in China. He always opposed violence in his writing and lectures, and sought to encourage cooperation and understanding among them. But he has been jailed for life – ironically for inflaming ethnic tensions.


Ilham Tohti is a well-respected university professor, known for his moderate views on ethnic issues in China. Yet in January 2014 he was taken from his home in Beijing by police.

For five months, family and friends were not told where he was. He was denied food for 10 days and had his feet in shackles for 20 days straight. Then in September 2014 he was given a life sentence – supposedly for stirring up ethnic hatred.

Ilham comes from the Uighur community, a largely Muslim ethnic group that faces widespread discrimination in his home region, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Tensions between ethnic groups have been rising there in recent years, as have the number of violent attacks.

Ilham adamantly opposed violence and worked tirelessly to build bridges and encourage cooperation between communities. “The path I have pursued all along is honourable and peaceful. I have relied only on pen and paper,” he said.

Through his writing and lectures he also highlighted government practices that discriminated against many aspects of Uighurs’ lives.

But now he faces a lifetime in jail. He’s being cruelly punished for peacefully challenging the Chinese government’s policies towards ethnic minorities.

Articles 9 and 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary detention.

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression and opinion.

Please write to:

Director Fan Jun
Prison Administration Bureau of Xinjiang
Uighur Autonomous Region
No.626 Xinquanjie, Tianshanqu
Urumqi
Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region
People’s Republic of China 830002

Start your letter with:
Dear Director,

Please send a copy of your letter to:

His Excellency Luo Zhaohui
Ambassador for the People’s Republic of China
515 St. Patrick Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 5H3

Begin or end your letter with this request

Ask him to release Ilham Tohti without delay or conditions on his freedom

Write in your own words

Describe who you are and what concerns you about the continued detention of Ilham Tohti.

Show Ilham your support

Send him a letter or postcard to tell him you are calling for his release. Your messages will let the authorities know the world is watching.

His address:

Ilham Tohti
Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region
No. 1 Prison
No. 215 Hebei Donglu
Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region
People’s Republic of China 830013

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This document contains date, address, salutation and cc for this case.

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