On January 15th, 2014, China, a newly-elected UN Human Rights Council member, arrested distinguished Uyghur scholar and activist Ilham Tohti without specific charges, drawing swift condemnation from the United States and European Union. The U.S. State Department lambasted the arrest as “part of a disturbing pattern of arrests and detentions of public interest lawyers, Internet activists, journalists, religious leaders and others who peacefully challenge official Chinese policies and actions.” EU Ambassador to China, Markus Ederer, criticized the “overall tightening of the human rights situation” and called for Mr. Tohti’s release “if [the] charges cannot be substantiated” under law.
Ilham Tohti, an economics professor who has taught at Beijing’s Minzu University, was known for his nonviolent perspectives.
More than thirty officials ransacked Mr. Tohti’s home for two hours, later arresting and strip searching several of his students. Mr. Tohti’s mother, wife, and two young sons remain confined under house arrest. China has refused to divulge Mr. Tohti’s whereabouts and his current status is unknown.
By serving at the UN Human Rights Council, China has committed to “uphold the highest standards of human rights.” Regrettably, its actions show little respect to its international obligations, the United Nations, human rights and the rule of law.
UN Watch calls for Mr. Tohti’s immediate and unconditional release and his safe return to his family members.
See below for more information:
1. U. S. State Department Statement
2. EU High Representative Statement
3. Amnesty International Urgent Action
4. Reporters Without Borders Statement
5. CNN report
6. Washington Post report
7. New York Times report
8. Wall Street Journal report
9. BBC report
10. Initiatives for China