Interview With Uyghur Scholar Ilham Tohti, Now on Trial in China for ‘Separatism’

This excerpt is from a 2009 interview with Beijing economist Ilham Tohti by Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser.

Tohti, 44, was detained by Chinese authorities shortly after the interview, following the Urumqi riots, because he criticized their policies towards Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province. Tohti is founder of the popular website Uighurbiz or Uyghur Online.

He was later released, and then jailed again at the start of 2014, with charges of “separatism” announced in July. His trial began in Urumqi on Sept. 17 amid tight security.

Tohti’s lawyers stated that he has maintained his innocence throughout the detention. He won the 2014 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in May, and his daughter accepted the rights prize on his behalf.

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