By Beth Main
Prominent Uyghur activist Ilham Tohti and his teenage daughter were detained at Beijing airport on Saturday, held seperately, and questioned for about 8 hours before Tohti was sent home while his daughter was allowed to board a plane to America. Tohti was due to take up a post at Indiana University.
While at the airport he texted friends to say that he was being watched by first two policemen, and then four. He texted their identification numbers to his friends and asked them to “report it to the outside world”.
This is not the first time that Ilham Tohti has been detained:
He was imprisoned for two months following the July 2009 ethnic violence in Xinjiang that left 200 people dead. Since then his family have faced “restrictions” to their life in Beijing, his six year old son was even refused entry to a Beijing primary school.
In September 2011, the Central Minorities University cancelled a class taught by him on immigration, discrimination, and development in Xinjiang.
RFA reports that:
In August , Chinese authorities interrogated the professor, warning him not to speak to foreign media or discuss religion online, after he alleged on his website that the authorities had sent armed forces to mosques in Xinjiang to monitor Muslims during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
He was removed from Beijing to his hometown Atush in October last year ahead of the 18th National Congress.
Tohti is an economics professor but is very vocal about Han-Uyghur relations. He founded Uyghur Online (CN), which was shut down by authorities in 2009 but relaunched on an overseas server last year, it is still censored in China.