|Uighurs rail against China lawsuit
Rights groups condemned China for charging a prominent Uighur critic of government policy towards the mostly-Muslim minority with separatism. The charge can carry the death penalty.
Ilham Tohti, an economics lecturer at a university in Beijing, has been formally accused of the offense, his wife Guzaili Nu'er told AFP.
Tohti has been one of the most prominent critics of China’s policy in Xinjiang, the vast western region where most Uighurs live.
“China's accusations of separatism are merely an excuse for suppression of those with different political opinions,'' said Dilshat Rexit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, an exile group.
“We call on the international community to monitor China and free this Uighur scholar,'' he added in a statement.
The US-based Uyghur Human Rights Project said in a statement the charge against Tohti “reflects not only a zero tolerance policy to Uyghur dissent, but also the growing intractability of China towards international criticism of its ethnic policies''.
The group also called on China to account for the whereabouts of Tohti, who has not been allowed to contact his family or see a lawyer since his arrest last month.
The United States and the European Union have both condemned Tohti's arrest.