Research and Policy
Jewher Ilham is the daughter of Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, an internationally noted moderate voice who was dedicated to bridging the gap between the Uyghur people and the Han Chinese. Jewher arrived in the United States in 2013, following the detention of her father at the Beijing airport, as both prepared to travel to Indiana University for Professor Tohti’s fellowship. At eighteen years old, with little English and no plan, and unable to return safely to China, Jewher found herself having to start a new life in Bloomington, Indiana.
During the period between her father’s subsequent arrest and sentencing for life, Jewher enrolled as a student in Indiana. As an advocate for her father, she testified before the U.S. Congressional-Executive Committee on China, wrote op-eds in the New York Times, met with a number of government officials including former Secretary of State John Kerry, and received numerous awards worldwide on behalf of her father.
In 2015, she recounted her experiences in the book, Jewher Ilham: A Uyghur’s Fight to Free Her Father (University of New Orleans Press). Jewher has finished her degree at Indiana University this year. She is taking a year off to assist on a documentary film about Uyghurs as well as to continue to advocate on behalf of her father.