Court records say Uygur teacher preaches separatism

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The Uygur teacher convicted of separatism had urged his students to fight the Chinese government with any means and manipulated opinion polls to preach the independence of Xinjiang, according to detailed court records obtained by Xinhua on Wednesday.

The records came one day after the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi sentenced Ilham Tohti, a former teacher with Beijing-based Minzu University of China, to life imprisonment.


According to the records, more than 210 pieces of evidence had been presented to the court including witness testimony, confession of the defendant and video footage.

A video footage provided by prosecutors showed that Ilham Tohti called on his students to fight the Chinese government which he labeled as "a devil to the Uygur people."

"Don't think that fighting with violence is terrorist activities," he told his students in the classroom.

The records showed that witnesses said Ilham Tohti had been behind over 100 articles advocating separatism on the website of Uygur Online.

He organized the group to write, edit, translate and reprint articles seeking Xinjiang's separation from China.

"All of the important and sensitive articles were polished and approved by him," witnesses said.

According to the records, Ilham Tohti instigated others to write and reprint articles to distort the fact after a clash between terrorists and authorities in Kashgar's Bachu County, in which 15 community workers and police officers and six terrorists were killed on April 23, 2013.

"I admire these people who fight with violence against violence. They are heroes," he said in the classroom after the attack, according to a video footage.

On Oct. 28, a jeep crashed near the Tian'anmen Square in downtown Beijing, causing five deaths and 40 injuries. Police found gasoline, two knives and steel sticks as well as a flag with extremist content in the jeep. Police later identified the deadly crash as a violent terrorist attack.

After it happened, Ilham Tohti published articles on WeChat, China's leading smartphone messaging platform, claiming that it was not a terrorist attack, the records said.

Ilham Tohti was prosecuted in late July for separatism. A public trial was held last week, with two lawyers for the defendant.

During the trial, Ilham Tohti denied all charges against him, arguing that he did not intend to split the country and the articles he published merely represent the academic point of views.

The records also showed that lawyers of the defendant raised questions over whether Ilham Tohti should be tried in Urumqi.


Ilham Tohti manipulated opinion polls, published false data on the website of Uygur Online, and quoted the results in the classroom to preach the independence of Xinjiang, said the records.

The Uygur teacher claimed that he had distributed questionnaires and conducted interviews in Xinjiang, Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin between 2009 and 2010.

But police investigation showed that he had never done research in the above places, nor sent out any questionnaire online.

According to the records, witnesses said Ilham Tohti fabricated the statistics. He stayed at home and did not have time to do the research during the period.

A video footage revealed that Ilham Tohti told his students that 13 percent of people supported Xinjiang independence, while 87 percent advocated autonomy. If without autonomy, most of them would support independence.

In the court, he repeatedly said he totally supported autonomy and hoped Xinjiang could stay in China in the form of federation.

Ilham Tohti and his lawyers did not provide any evidence that could prove he had conducted the opinion polls during the court.

A string of his comments, articles and acts revealed his purpose to disunite the country and preach Xinjiang independence, said Jia Yu, head of Northwest University of Politics and Law.

Ruan Qilin, a professor with China University of Political Science and Law, echoed this view.

"Freedom of speech does not mean you can break the law," he said. "Inciting violence and ethnic hatred are prohibited in the international society. It is a crime and should be punished."

Aygul Yakup, who attended the trial, said Ilham Tohti is a criminal of the nation. He formed a separatist group and undertook separatist activities under the disguise of his identity. "We must not be fooled by such separatists and keep fighting them."

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