Washington, DC – With the decision to sentence Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti to life in prison, Beijing sends an extremist and negative message both to moderate non-Chinese who are trying to find a space within the People’s Republic of China, and to China’s foreign partners, including the United States and the European Union, which have objected to his incarceration.

Ilham Tohti was fully exercising his right to freedom of expression when sharing his views on the marginalization of Uyghurs, including on matters concerning their language and culture.

His case, like those of Tibetans who have been active to protect their identity and culture in China against the policies of assimilation, is a reflection of China’s misperceived ethnic policy and does not contribute to the “unity and stability” of the People’s Republic of China.

With this background, next month China’s Communist Party Plenum dedicated to the promotion “Rule of Law” is destined to be a farce.

The International Campaign for Tibet calls on the Chinese authorities to reconsider the decision and release Ilham Tohti and to address the underlying causes for which he had been campaigning for long.