More than 400 scholars blame Chinese sanctions on British scholars against Uighurs

More than 400 scholars from around the world have signed an open letter condemning the Chinese administration’s decision to sanction British scholars for her criticisms of Uighur Muslim abuse.

Dr. Joanne Smith Finley, a Chinese expert at Newcastle University, said one of nine British citizens authorized by Beijing on March 26 for speaking against the human rights abuses of the Chinese administration in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. It was a person.

“The sanctions of Dr. Joan Smith Finley of Beijing are a threat to the basic principles of academic freedom at the university,” scholars said. Open letterPublished by the Times of London on Monday.

Epoch Times Photo
Workers will walk by a border fence officially known as the Vocational Skills Education Center in Dabancheng, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, on September 4, 2018. (Thomas Peter / Reuters)

The letter stated that Beijing’s “unprecedented steps” are important for three reasons.

“First, the Chinese Communist Party has long used secret attempts to silence critics outside its territory, but these obvious new measures against scholars are serious escalations.

“Second, it reflects the misconceptions of British universities. They are not national institutions, but autonomous institutions dedicated to the pursuit of truth, but inconvenient for those in power.

“Finally, by claiming that self-censorship is, in effect, a prerequisite for academic partnerships with Chinese universities, UK academic cooperation with China becomes very difficult, if not impossible. . “

Scholars said they would “fully solidarity” with Smith Finley to insist on a commitment to academic freedom. They also called on the British government and all British universities to do the same.

In a statement emailed to The Epoch Times, Smith Finley said she was “totally overwhelmed” by the expression of solidarity she received.

“I have received hundreds of messages from around the world, including British politicians (Foreign, Commonwealth Development FCDO, members of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, such as Sir Tariq Ahmad and Sir David Alton). Colleagues in academia; scholars I have never met. Students, past and present; think tank researchers. NGOs; Uighur advocacy groups; family and friends.

“I am completely overwhelmed by the expressed solidarity, and I am moved by the encouragement that I want to continue what I am doing, even if I try to bully or intimidate me. I am silent and self I’m not going to get involved in censorship. Continue Larutte! (The struggle continues …) “

After Beijing announced sanctions, Newcastle University said: “Academic freedom underpins all areas of research at the University of Newcastle and is essential to the principles of higher education in the United Kingdom.

“Dr. Jo Smith Finley is a leading speaker in this important area of ​​research on Uighurs, and we fully support her in this research.”