Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the reported release in China
this week of the founder of an online discussion forum who disappeared for more
than a month after riots erupted in Xinjiang
Province in early July.
Tohti, who established Uyghur Online at www.uighurbiz.cn and is a professor at the Central National University
in Beijing, disappeared from his home in Beijing on July 7.
He had reportedly told friends he
had received a “formal notice” from local authorities late on July 7 referring
to articles posted that day on Uyghur Online criticising the Chairman of the Xinjiang
Uyghur Autonomous Regional People’s Government.
to a report in the Hong Kong-based Ming
Pao newspaper, Tohti refused to talk on the phone that evening, saying that
some “official personnel” were at his home.
was reported to have been released by authorities on August 23. No explanation
was given for his detention or release.
friend of Tohti’s told the IFJ that Tohti had been detained by officials at an
unknown location. He has been permitted to return to his family subject to the
right of authorities to question him at any time, the friend said.
Uyghur Online is reported to be accessible
again, after being shut down without explanation in early July. Tohti’s blog remains blocked.
IFJ welcomes the release of Ilham Tohti, although there is still no explanation
for his detention,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said. “We are also
pleased to learn that restrictions on Uyghur Online have apparently been
remains of concern however that authorities may arbitrarily question Tohti at
any time. This amounts to harassment and an effort to restrict freedom of
authorities to fully respect Tohti’s right to freedom of movement and freedom
39, set up the website in 2006 as a discussion forum for ethnic
Uighurs, who live mostly in Xinjiang. After rioting broke out in the province
on July 5, Xinjiang Chairman Nur Bekri alleged the site had
fomented violence by spreading rumours.
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