Skip to content

Xinhua: Testimony from the Court Trial of Uyghur Separatist Ilham Tohti

On September 24, 2014, Xinhua published some of the testimony from the court trial of Uyghur economics professor Ilham Tohti, one of the few moderate Uighur dissidents within China. The court in Urumqi sentenced the Uyghur scholar to life in prison for “inciting separatism,” stripped him of all political rights, and seized all of his assets. 

According to the Court testimony, Ilham Tohti denied that he had engaged in “splitting the country deliberately or leading and organizing a criminal group.” None of the articles published on his website “” called for separation. The court showed a video of Ilham Tohti’s lecture in class and charged him with “the crime of promoting separation in public.” His attorney claimed that the damage was not big since not many students were in his class. “Defendant Ilham Tohti argued, ‘I (should) have the right of academic freedom and freedom of expression.’” The video “evidence” of his “separation speech” in class included his words, “Does Xinjiang belong to your Chinese people? No, I am a Uighur in the first place. We belong to the Central Asian ethnicity first of all.” “I am not a Chinese because I am a Uighur. Our pride is the great Turkistan.” In court, Ilham Tohti repeatedly said, "I have expressed my view on autonomy very clearly." "I’m a pro-autonomy (person)." [That means] "I want Xinjiang to remain inside China in the form of a federal district."   

Source: Xinhua, September 24, 2014