Family of Ilham Tohti Faces Severe Hardship, Social Isolation

April 27, 2016

According to Radio Free Asia the family of jailed Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti is facing extreme hardship and increasing isolation as she struggles to raise the couple's young sons in Beijing. 
Guzelnur has been left with scant income to care for the couple's young sons in Beijing while her husband serves a life sentence for "separatism," she said. "Sometimes I get financial help from friends or relatives, but they've got their own kids too, and their own expenses to meet," she said in an interview on Tuesday. 

"I make 3,500 yuan (U.S.$540) a month, and the nursery fees for my youngest are 1,200 yuan a month, while it costs 300 yuan a month for my eldest just to eat lunch in school," she said. "Sometimes a friend called Huang helps out by buying the kids some clothes, but he has his own family too."


Guzelnur said she has also asked Tibetan poet and writer Woeser for help when things get tough.

She said she is unable to take time out from her children's routine to visit her husband, who is serving his time in the remote northwestern Xinjiang region in spite of having made a life in Beijing.


Asked if she visits her husband, Guzelnur said: "There is nobody to take care of the kids. "She said authorities at Urumqi's No. 1 Prison, where Tohti is being held, are refusing to allow any items to be delivered to him by visitors, including clothing.But she said the family has plans to travel back to the region during the summer holidays."I will be back at my parental home for those two months," Guzelnur said.Socially isolatedBeijing-based rights activist and family friend Hu Jia said Guzelnur has also become socially isolated since Tohti's incarceration, as many of the couple's former friends have withdrawn contact for fear of political reprisals." Guzelnur and the two kids have been living a very lonely life in Beijing since Ilham Tohti was detained," 

Mini Biography of Ilham Tohti:

Ilham Tohti, a 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. 

Tohti, who was jailed over content posted on his Uighur Online website, is currently serving the longest sentence handed down to a political prisoner in China.

Uyghurs and members of other non-Han Chinese groups in Xinjiang face huge barriers to applying for passports, and those who already hold them have been ordered in some regions to hand them in to police stations.
China has been keen to portray its Uyghur population as potential terrorists after a wave of violent incidents hit the region following a crackdown on deadly ethnic riots in Urumqi in July 2009.
Many Uyghurs try to leave China illegally, saying they are fleeing systematic persecution by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, which then puts strong diplomatic pressure on neighboring countries to return the fugitives to China rather than treating them as refugees.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide joins the effort and call on the international community to show more concern and support for his family and the hardship they face.

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