The daughter of Ilham Tohti, a prominent Uighur economist in Beijing , told a hearing in the US Congress on April 8, 2014, that her father was not a separatist and opposed violence and that his arrest shows China will not tolerate even peaceful expression of grievances by the minority group.
“In fact, he is exactly the sort of person a rational Chinese political structure would seek to engage with in order to address the conditions of the Uighur people,” she told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China for human rights.
Ilham Tohti, has been detained since January and accused of separatism, a charge that could carry the death penalty. The United States and the European Union have condemned Tohti’s detention.
Senator Sherrod Brown, who chaired the hearing, voiced concern over growing arrests of activists, intellectuals and journalists in China since President Xi Jinping assumed power last year.
“China’s government has shown little tolerance for independent voices, even those that echo the government’s concerns and try to uphold the law,” said Brown.
Teng Biao, a leading human rights lawyer who joined the hearing by video from Hong Kong said:
“Under the guise of maintaining stability above all, the authorities brutally punish anyone who in their mind dares to threaten their legitimacy to rule China.”
He voiced concern over the recent death in custody of activist Cao Shunli, who according to her family and lawyers was denied medical care.