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Ilham Tohti, an Uighur economist scholar and the founder of Uyghur online was arrested by the Chinese government for “separatism”. Three days ago, Tohti was found guilty of his charges and ordered a life sentence in jail. Ironically, Tohti has always expressed his disagreements with separatism and persuaded Beijing authorities change their oppressive tactics in policing the people in Xinjiang to prevent again the large-scale riots led by mostly Muslim Uighurs in 2009.
While the US and EU expressed concerns over China’s treatment against Tohti, the Chinese government insisted that foreign governments and human rights organizations should leave the “internal affairs” alone to China. This event has shown how the Xi Jinping regime employes extreme and violent tactics against China’s ethnic minorities and its internal insurgences. However, this strategy will most likely only escalate the already existing ethnic tensions and increase people’s discontents with the centralized, repressive regime.
Wen Liu is a doctoral candidate in social psychology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is also a freelance writer on sexuality and politics in the US and Asia.