The words of China’s most famous political prisoner
In Xinjiang, the large northwest region of China, the government has imprisoned more than a million Uyghurs in reeducation camps. One of the incarcerated—whose sentence, unlike most others, has no end date—is Ilham Tohti, an intellectual and economist, a prolific writer, and formerly the host of a website, Uyghur Online. In 2014, Tohti was arrested; accused of advocating separatism, violence, and the overthrow of the Chinese government; subjected to a two-day trial; and sentenced to life. Nothing has been heard from him since.
Here are Tohti’s own words, a collection of his plain-spoken calls for justice, scholarly explanations of the history of Xinjiang, and poignant personal reflections. While his courage and outspokenness about the plight of China’s Muslim minorities is extraordinary, these essays sound a measured insistence on peace and just treatment for the Uyghurs.
Winner of the PEN/Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought while imprisoned, this book is the only way to hear from a man who has been called “a Uyghur Mandela.”
What People Are Saying
About the Author
Ilham Tohti is a Uyghur economist, writer, and professor who is a co-founder of the website Uyghur Online, also known as Uyghurbiz, which aimed to promote understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. In February 2014 Tohti was charged with separatism and held incommunicado under inhumane conditions for months before he could meet his lawyer. On 23 September 2014, he was found guilty of ‘separatism,’ and is currently serving a life sentence. He has been incarcerated incommunicado since 2017, with no access to his family or his lawyers.