BEIJING: A prominent academic from China’s mostly-Muslim Uighur minority was jailed for life on Tuesday for “separatism”, with the European Union expressing outrage at the “completely unjustified “response to criticism of Beijing’s policies in the restive Xinjiang region.

The EU, United States and human rights groups had all been calling for the release of Ilham Tohti, a persistent but moderate government critic who campaigned for minority rights in the vast western region.

Analysts say his unusually harsh sentence shows increased official intolerance for dissent and could stoke ethnic tensions.

The former university professor will “certainly appeal” the sentence passed in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, his lawyer Li Fangping said.

Tohti, 44, said he “did not agree” with the sentence as it was announced but was not allowed to make any further statement before officials led him away, Li said, adding that the court will “confiscate his entire property”.

Tohti’s wife cried loudly after the verdict was read and “was so upset she couldn’t walk,” he added.

Xinjiang is home to about 10 million Uighurs, and in the last year has been hit by a string of attacks on civilians and clashes which have killed at least 200 people.

China blames unrest on militant groups seeking independence for Xinjiang.

Rights groups say discrimination and government repression of the Uighurs’ religion and language has fuelled violence.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2014

Opinion

Long arm of Big Tech
20 Jan 2021

Long arm of Big Tech

How many people would still be alive if Twitter and Facebook had denied Trump a platform to spread lies about Covid-19 a year ago?
Words, words, words
19 Jan 2021

Words, words, words

There was little in terms of contributions in our own language as we wrestled with the pandemic.

Editorial

Updated 20 Jan 2021

Broadsheet judgement

There are plenty of skeletons in the Broadsheet cupboard and they must be brought out into the open.
20 Jan 2021

Unequal justice

IT seems no one wants to testify against former SSP Malir, Rao Anwar. At least five prosecution witnesses, all ...
20 Jan 2021

Schools reopening

THE disruptive impact of Covid-19 on education will be felt for years to come. For countries like Pakistan, where...
Updated 19 Jan 2021

LNG contracts

It is important for industry to reconnect with the national grid and for gas to be allocated for more efficient uses.
19 Jan 2021

Murdered judges

THE continuous violence in Afghanistan has raised serious questions about the sustainability of the peace process, ...
19 Jan 2021

K2 feat

A TEAM of 10 Nepalese mountaineers made history over the weekend as they scaled the world’s second highest peak K2...