Tohti's family has received no news of him since his arrest at his Beijing home on 15 January. No one knows for sure, but he may have been secretly transferred to a prison in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Chinese authorities detained the Central University for Nationalities professor on Jan. 15 but have refused to say where he is being held, accusing him of leading a separatist group that advocates violence to overthrow Chinese rule in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) — charges which Guzelnur totally refuted.
IN AN ominous sign of the fate awaiting one of China’s best-known Uighur intellectuals, security officials in the far western region of Xinjiang issued a statement on January 25, accusing him of separatism and inciting ethnic hatred. The statement provides the first concrete indication that the scholar, Ilham Tohti, an economics professor in Beijing, could face a long prison term for his advocacy on behalf of Uighurs, the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority whose uneasy coexistence with the Chinese authorities has grown increasingly violent.
Reporters Without Borders is worried about Uyghur academic and citizen-journalist Ilham Tohti, who was arrested at his Beijing home on 15 January and has been held at an unknown location ever since. "We call for Tohti's immediate release in view of the clearly arbitrary and illegal nature of his arrest and detention," Reporters Without Borders said. "It shows how the authorities keep cracking down on the Uyghur community, including those who just freely express their views and inform the world about the disastrous human right situation in the far-west province of Xinjiang."
Twelve people died in clashes with police in the troubled Xinjiang autonomous region in western China on Friday, after causing explosions at a hair salon and a vegetable market, says state-controlled news agency Xinhua in an unverified report. The news agency said six assailants were gunned down by police, while six others died after setting off explosives. Five people were also arrested in what the police described as a “premeditated terrorist attack.”
Police took Tohti, a vocal critic of Beijing's policies in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang, and his mother away from the family home in Beijing between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the Uyghur Online website said. Police officers from Beijing and from the Xinjiang regional police department locked Tohti's wife and the couple's two children in the bathroom during the arrest and seized all the family's communications devices, the report said.
Wednesday's detention is the latest indication of the government's increasing hardline stance on dissent surrounding Xinjiang, where a series of violent riots in the past year have killed at least 91 people, rights activists say. Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur people who speak a Turkic language. Many resent what they see as oppressive treatment by the government, though Beijing says they are granted wide religious, cultural and linguistic freedoms. Police in Beijing seized Ilham Tohti, a prominent Uighur economist who has championed the rights of the Uighur community in Xinjiang, at his home and his whereabouts were unknown, his wife and close friend told Reuters.
A Uyghur blogger and activist is “seriously ill” in prison in China’s troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang following his detention four months ago, according to concerned family members who have been barred by the authorities from meeting with him.The Chinese authorities have also refused to inform the family of the whereabouts of Abduweli Ayup, a 39-year-old active promoter of the Uyghur language, since he was arrested in August for allegedly illegally collecting donations to run Uyghur schools in Xinjiang.