In This Review

We Uyghurs Have No Say: An Imprisoned Writer Speaks
We Uyghurs Have No Say: An Imprisoned Writer Speaks
By Ilham Tohti. Translated by Yaxue Cao, Cindy Carter, and Matthew Robertson.
Verso, 2022, 192 pp.

Tohti is the most famous of the hundreds of Uyghur intellectuals imprisoned by the Chinese state in its effort to destroy Uyghur culture and identity. In 2014, he was a professor at the Chinese government’s special university for the study of ethnic minority issues when he was arrested and given a life sentence on the charge of “separatism.” This selection of his writings shows what this separatism consisted of: bracingly honest analyses of the racism, discrimination, marginalization, and coercive policies that shape Beijing’s treatment of the country’s 55 recognized “national minorities”; nuanced analyses of the social tensions between Uyghurs and Han Chinese; and thoughtful recommendations for how to realize the promises of equal citizenship and minority cultural self-rule laid out in the Chinese constitution and the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law. Describing himself as a “Chinese patriot,” Tohti warned for years against a rising tide of “totalitarian ethnonationalism,” until that tide swept him away.