Dr. Gurumurthy Kalyanaram - Dean and former NYIT and UT Dallas professor, and expert witness, Gurumurthy Kalyanaram reports on China’s Prosecution of Uighur scholar IlhamTohti.
Here is the background to Tohti’s case.
In China’s Xinjiang province, the Uighurs have been agitating for better quality of life More than 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population of 22 million are Uighur, a minority that speaks Turkic rather than Mandarin and a minority that practices Sunni Islam. Tensions between the Uighurs and the Han Chinese population have resulted in some violence and death of civilians.
China’s response to the unrest has been to tighten security, promote economic development in the province, and encourage more Han Chinese to move there. But the tensions and suspicions persist. In recent months, the government has further tightened security measures in the face of mounting ethnic violence, much of it fueled by Uighur discontent. Despite intensely restrictive security measures, the bloodshed has been escalating. More than 200 Uighurs and Han have died over the past year in small-scale clashes and killings.
Mr. Tohti, 44 who was an economics professor at Minzu University of China in Beijing was a critic of Chinese policies in the increasingly turbulent western region. Mr. Tohti was one of the few scholars in China willing to advocate on behalf of the nation’s Uighur minority, though it appears that Tohti was not advocating a separate Uighur state.Tohti was seeking a reconciliation and a better deal for Uighurs.
Tohti’s advocacy, China’s response including the criminal lawsuit, and final legal and political adjudication is complicated and remains a study in dealing with dissent, discord, violence in a sovereign nation.