Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Don't even say devolution or accommodation

In China, there will be no talk of devolution or even accommodation. There will only be obedience.

China jails prominent Uighur academic Ilham Tohti for life
A court in China has found a prominent Uighur scholar guilty of separatism and jailed him for life, his lawyer says.

Ilham Tohti
Ilham Tohti had spoken out on China's policies towards the Muslim Uighur minority in the restive Xinjiang region, but had denied being a separatist.

Correspondents say China is taking a tougher line amid rising Xinjiang-linked violence…

Calling for independence is illegal and always punished severely when the offender belongs to China's minority Uighur community. But what is so extraordinary about the sentence is that Ilham Tohti was not an independence activist, far less a terrorist, but an outspoken advocate of building bridges between the two communities.

Until his arrest in January he was an academic at a university in [Beijing] and a member of the Communist Party. In his academic essays and on the website he ran, he insisted that Xinjiang should remain part of China and frequently expressed revulsion against growing violence employed by Uighurs against the state.

But he likewise criticised the mounting police crackdown in Xinjiang, complaining that punitive policies were radicalising young Uighurs and convincing them that the battle was not between China and terrorists, but between China and Islam.

Today's life sentence is a message that amid the battle to contain Xinjiang's surging violence, there is no longer room in China for an outspoken moderate…

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