China to Allow Family Visit For Jailed Uyghur Scholar

February 22, 2016


Authorities in northwestern China’s troubled Xinjiang region have given the go-ahead for relatives of jailed Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti permission to visit him in prison, where he is held in a cell on his own and has access to daily necessities and reading matter, his wife said.

"[His brother] is getting ready to visit him in Urumqi," Tohti's wife Guzelnur told Radio Free Eroupe ahead of the scheduled visit on Thursday.

"This will be the third [family] visit."

Guzelnur, who has been left with very little income to care for the couple's young sons in Beijing, said she is currently feeling unwell, and was unable to make the trip to Xinjiang for the visit.

"He will go this time, and maybe next time it'll be me who goes," she said. "His parents are sick, so they can't go."

The former professor at the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing was sentenced to life in prison following his conviction on a charge of “separatism” by the Urumqi Intermediate People's Court in Xinjiang on Sept. 23, 2014.

Guzelnur said her husband is being held in a cell on his own in Urumqi's No. 1 Prison, and is receiving medical check-ups every two weeks.

He spends most of him time reading books, she said.

She said there are stringent restrictions surrounding such family visits, however, which are limited to one every three months, and to 30 minutes per visit.

She said she is unwilling to take the couple's children too often, however.

"We'll go once a year," she said. "Otherwise, the kids just get so upset when they have just visited their father."

"When we came back from the last visit last September, they were feeling very low, and they missed their father the whole time," she said.

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