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Title: Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Professor Ilham Tohti of China
Publication: SAR Press Release
Author: Scholars at Risk
February 12, 2013
Scholars at Risk is concerned over public reports that Professor Ilham Tohti, a public intellectual and economics professor from China, was denied permission to leave China to take up a position as a Visiting Scholar at Indiana University in the United States.
SAR asks for letters, faxes and emails respectfully urging the appropriate authorities to inquire into the matter and explain publicly the circumstances of any restrictions on Professor Tohti’s travel or, if there are no official restrictions, to expedite approval of any pending or future travel requests.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 300 universities and colleges in 34 countries dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. In cases involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, SAR intervenes hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.
Professor Tohti is a professor at the Central Minorities University in Beijing, and he was invited by Indiana University to take up a one-year position as a Visiting Scholar. Scholars at Risk understands that Professor Tohti and his daughter attempted to depart for the United States on February 2nd but were prevented from boarding an outbound plane from Beijing Capital International Airport. Reports indicate that Professor Tohti and his daughter were going through airport security checks when they were stopped by police. Furthermore, SAR understands that Professor Tohti and his daughter were held in separate interrogation rooms, and while Professor Tohti’s daughter was permitted to depart for the United States on a later flight, Professor Tohti was held in custody for 10 hours, before being sent back to his apartment without explanation.
Free exchange of ideas is one of the most basic human rights and values of all academic communities. Freedom of travel is one of the most important avenues for furthering such exchange among academic colleagues. Recognizing this, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, protects freedom of expression, right to travel and scientific exchange. Public reports that Professor Tohti was denied permission to travel to take up a position at Indiana University suggest that these rights have not been respected. Therefore, in the absence of any clearly legitimate, publicly expressed grounds for doing so, the apparent restricting of Professor Tohti’s travel suggests serious concerns not only about his ability to engage with colleagues in his field, but also about intimidation of intellectuals generally in China and about the ability to conduct world-class scholarship in such an environment. These are suggestions SAR finds particularly distressing given both China’s rich intellectual history and the important role that China and Chinese universities and scholars in particular should play in the development of knowledge, research and scholarship in the 21st century.
Scholars at Risk therefore respectfully urges the appropriate authorities to investigate the situation and to explain publicly the circumstances of any restrictions on Professor Tohti’s travel or, if there are no official restrictions, to expedite approval of any pending or future travel requests.
Scholars at Risk invites letters, emails and faxes be sent:
- respectfully urging the appropriate authorities to investigate the situation;
- respectfully urging the appropriate authorities to explain publicly the circumstances of any restrictions on Professor Tohti’s travel; or, if there are no official restrictions, to expedite approval of any pending or future travel requests.
PLEASE WRITE TO:
President Hu Jintao
The State Council General Office
People's Republic of China
H.E. Mr. Yang Jiechi
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
No. 2, Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100701
The Honorable _________
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to [YOUR COUNTRY]
(See http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjb/zwjg/ for a list of Chinese embassies worldwide.)
The Honorable _________
Ambassador of [YOUR COUNTRY] to the People’s Republic of China
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
United States of America
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520 USA
Scholars at Risk
New York University
194 Mercer Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10012, USA
Fax: +1 212-995-4402
To view a model letter of appeal, as well as a copy of SAR's letter, please visit: http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/Education-Advocacy/Alerts-Scholars-in-Prison.php.