September 23rd, 2014
A university professor who has become the most visible symbol of peaceful resistance by ethnic Uighurs to Chinese policies was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday after being found guilty of separatism by court officials in the western region of Xinjiang, which Uighurs consider their homeland.
The punishment handed down to Ilham Tohti was the harshest that Chinese officials have imposed on a political dissident in recent years. Mr. Tohti was convicted after a two-day trial in Urumqi, the regional capital, that ended last Wednesday. He was taken by the police last January from his home in Beijing, where he teaches economics at Minzu University, and brought to Xinjiang, where he was charged with separatism.
“It’s not just! It’s not just!” he yelled as police officers dragged him from the courtroom, his lawyer, Li Fangping, said.