Overturn Life Sentence Given to Human Rights Activist

uighur protest

Target: Chinese President Xi Jinping

Goal: Release prominent Uighur activist and academic, Ilham Tohti

A Chinese court recently sentenced prominent academic and activist Ilham Tohti to life in prison. Tohti is a member of the long-oppressed Uighur minority group, and throughout his career, Tohti worked to bring together members of all ethnic communities in China. The charges against him were politically motivated and the sentence is a violation of international human rights law. Tohti is a prisoner of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally.

Most of Ilham Tohti’s work revolved around bringing together Uighurs and Han Chinese in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. He also founded the website Uighur Online and was a very vocal critic of Beijing’s policies in the region. Police arrested Tohti and seven students with whom he was working in January. While in detention, he was tortured, denied food, and held in shackles. The Chinese authorities responsible should be appalled at these flagrant human rights abuses. During his trial, his legal team was refused access to evidence and was not able to meet with its client.

The Chinese government has recently made claims that they are attempting to bridge the gap between Uighur and Han Chinese communities in the north of the country. Unfortunately, this sentence and the continued widespread oppression of the Uighur people shows that the Chinese government has no interest in improving the lives of the Uighur minority. Sign this petition to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Ilham Tohti.


Dear President Xi Jinping,

The recent life sentence given to Ilham Tohti is an appalling violation of human rights law. The international community should be quick to condemn your government for creating another prisoner of conscience. In addition, seven of Tohti’s students have been imprisoned with him. It is cruel that those seven others are caught up in your government’s desire to prosecute an innocent man. I ask that you do all that you can to right this wrong and immediately and unconditionally release these prisoners.

The allegations that Tohti was tortured and denied food while in custody are a stain on your country’s human rights record. In addition, the reports that his legal team was not allowed to visit him for six months during his trial is an abomination and should not be allowed in a civilized country with codified laws. I urge you to do what is right in this case and release Tohti so that his noble work may continue.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: High Contrast via Wikipedia Commons

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