China charges Beijing scholar with fomenting separatism

Feb. 26, 2014 at 4:51 PM

BEIJING, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Ilham Tohti, a scholar and champion of China's Uighur ethnic minority, was arrested in China on charges of fomenting separatism, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Tohti, 44, a Beijing resident, was being held in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in western China, after his arrest six weeks ago in Beijing, authorities confirmed.

Tohti is an outspoken critic of Chinese policy in the energy-rich region. Tensions between native Uighurs and Chinese security forces have resulted in weekly clashes and the loss of over 100 lives in recent months, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

His formal arrest underscored the government's determination to silence a moderate voice for the Uighurs, a predominately Sunni Muslim people, the newspaper said.

Accusations of fomenting separatism are baseless, Tohti's lawyer, Li Fangping, said Wednesday.

Tohti's wife, Guzaili Nu'er, denied any separatist ambitions of her husband, saying, "He is a sensible, educated man who just studied human rights, culture and religion in Xinjiang."

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Related UPI Stories
Topics: Sunni Muslim
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
Kim Jong Un had terrapin farm manager executed, says source
More than 80 percent of North Korean defectors are women, says report
North Korea requests medical aid from U.N. agencies
Kenyan bishop warns Obama against pro-gay policy
Duma approves construction of $4 billion bridge to Crimea