We Uyghurs Have No Say

We Uyghurs Have No Say:An Imprisoned Writer Speaks

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The words of China's most famous political prisoner

In Xinjiang, the large northwest region of China, the government has imprisoned more than a million Uyghurs in re-education camps. One of the incarcerated--whose sentence, unlike most others, has no end date--is Ilham Tohti, an intellectual and economist, a prolific writer, and formerly the host of a website, Uyghur Online. In 2014, Tohti was arrested; accused of advocating separatism, violence, and the overthrow of the Chinese government; subjected to a two-day trial; and sentenced to life. Nothing has been heard from him since.

Here are Tohti's own words, a collection of his plain-spoken calls for justice, scholarly explanations of the history of Xinjiang, and poignant personal reflections. While his courage and outspokenness about the plight of China's Muslim minorities is extraordinary, these essays sound a measured insistence on peace and just treatment for the Uyghurs.

Winner of the PEN/Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought while imprisoned, this book is nonetheless the only way to hear from a man who has been called "a Uyghur Mandela".


  • As Tohti wrote before his sentencing, the reason his people’s arduous history must be known and proliferated is because of the hope it and his life’s work evinces.

    Kevin LozanoVulture
  • Through his writings, Tohti tries to give the Uyghurs a voice. It is a tragic story that speaks volumes about the UK’s current retreat from international law.

    Helena KennedyGuardian
  • An indispensable firsthand description of the Uyghurs' desperate plight.

    Jeremy Ray JewellArts Fuse