Uygur scholar Ilham Tohti accused of 'separatist offences' by prosecutors

Uygur academic Ilham Tohti abused role and was 'involved in splitting the country', prosecutors say, but his wife insists claims are groundless

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 January, 2014, 9:21am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 January, 2014, 12:28pm

Mainland authorities have accused Uygur scholar Ilham Tohti, who has been detained since last week, of a range of political offences.

The Bureau of Public Security in Urumqi, the capital of the restive far-western Xinjiang region, said Tohti recruited followers through a website he founded to cause trouble, spread separatist ideology, incited ethnic hatred and engaged in separatist activities.

In an online statement yesterday, the bureau said the scholar told his students that Uygurs should use violence and oppose the government as China opposed Japanese invaders during the second world war. It also claimed Tohti told his students that those who attacked Xinjiang police in previous incidents were heroes.

"Ilham Tohti made use of his capacity as a teacher to recruit, lure and threaten some people to form a ring and join hands with key people from the East Turkestan Independence Movement to plan and organise people to go abroad to take part in separatist activities", according to the statement posted on the bureau's official weibo account.

"According to the meticulous investigation of the police, we had solid evidence that Ilham Tohti was involved in splitting the country," it said.

Tohti has not been formally charged, but prosecution is all but guaranteed. Human rights groups and foreign governments have expressed concerns over his detention.

His wife, Guzaili Nu'er, said the accusations were groundless.

"I have no idea, he is only a university lecturer … All the courses he taught were arranged by the university. How could he say those things [as the police have alleged]?" she asked.

She added she had no idea where her husband was until the statement last night indicated that he had been detained by the Urumqi police.

She and her two children are now under round-the-clock surveillance by the police. "It will be Spring Festival soon and we miss him so much," she said.

The accusations constitute the latest and most serious action against the scholar, one of the most best-known critics on the mainland of the ruling Communist Party's restrictive policies in Xinjiang.

Meanwhile, the authorities said 12 people were killed in explosions or were shot dead in a midwestern prefecture of Xinjiang on Friday.

Six people were killed in explosions and another six were shot dead by police during a clash in Xinhe county, Aksu prefecture. So far there is no evidence that the two incidents were linked.

Xinhua said the clash followed a pair of explosions in Xinhe town as police were attempting to make arrests.

An earlier Xinhua report said the blasts hit a hair salon and a produce market in Xinhe. Later, a vehicle exploded after it was surrounded by police. However, World Uygur Congress spokesman Dilxadi Rexiti claimed the hair salon was actually a brothel operated by Han Chinese and that the Uygurs were protesting against it before clashes erupted.

The Tianshan news portal, which is run by the provincial Communist Party, called Friday's violence an act of terrorism.


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