China has continued its crackdown on political speech with a truly disgraceful trial of Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti. The prominent scholar has written about the discontent in his region and lack of rights. The Chinese declared the writings as encouraging separatism. While that would not be a crime in any free nation, China handed him a life sentence after this supporters say that he was denied food and then denied copies of the evidence used against him.
Indeed, his lawyer said that police refused to even tell Ilham Tohti why he was being detained.
In a message from the scholar, he asked his family to tell his mother that he had received only a five-year sentence. He also said that he could hear one of his students, Pahati, pounding the door and moaning in the cell next to him.
To his credit, President Obama has discussed the case. However, when those remarks were raised with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, she reacted angrily and said some countries “made irresponsible remarks and brought up irrational requests in the name of so-called democracy and human rights, which were a harsh and unreasonable intervention over China’s internal affairs and sovereignty.” Once again, China views calls for the most basic human rights as “irrational requests.”
China’s state-controlled media also parroted the government’s position and Xinhua News Agency criticized the reference to Ilham Tohti as “a Uighur Mandela.” Xinhua said the analogy “displays not only a dangerous ignorance of history, but also a challenge to China’s determination to keep its 56 ethnic groups united.” The comment seems to struggle to show that there is even less protection of the free press as there is free speech in China.
Source: ABC News