Uighur leader Ilham Tohti accused of ‘separatism’

Detained Uighur scholar and activist Ilham Tohti was accused by Chinese authorities of "separatism" in Jan. 25 statement, and formal charges against him are expected imminently. The Bureau of Public Security in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang province, said Tohti recruited followers through his website to incite ethnic hatred and spread separatist ideology. In an online statement, the bureau charged that Tohti told his students that Uigurs should use violence and oppose the government as China opposed Japanese invaders during World War II. It also claimed Tohti told his students that those who attacked Xinjiang police in previous incidents were heroes. "Ilham Tohti made use of his capacity as a teacher to recruit, lure and threaten some people to form a ring and join hands with key people from the East Turkestan Independence Movement to plan and organise people to go abroad to take part in separatist activities," according to the statement posted to the bureau's official Weibo feed.

Tohti, an economics professor at China's Central University for Nationalities, was taken away by a force of some 30 police agents in a raid on his home in Beijing Jan. 16. Computers, cellphones and even his students' thesis manuscripts were also seized, his wife Guzaili Nu'er told reporters in a phone interview. (SCMP, Jan. 25; LAT, Jan. 17; AP, Jan. 16)

Violence continues in simmering Xinjiang. Chinese police shot dead six people during a "terrorist" attack, and another six were killed when explosives they were carrying detonated, state media said Jan. 26. The incident is reported to have taken place at a market in Xinhe town, Aksu prefecture, near the border with Kyrguzstan. (Reuters, NYT, Jan. 26)