A Uighur scholar facing potential execution is one of over a million detained by China

The last time Nury Tiyip, right, saw his brother Tashpolat in person was in 2001, when his brother visited him in the United States.

By ALICE SUTRACY WILKINSON
SEP. 29, 2019 3 AM

BEIJING —  Nury Tiyip grew up following in his brother Tashpolat’s footsteps: from their hometown of Ili, a remote city near the Chinese-Soviet border; to Urumqi, where they both played volleyball at Xinjiang University; to Japan, where they also studied.

Tashpolat was Nury’s idol and a model citizen — a member of the Muslim Uighur minority who managed to thrive in a system dominated by ethnic Han Chinese.

The pair parted ways in 1999, when Nury immigrated to the U.S. Tashpolat, fluent in Mandarin and Japanese, returned home to Xinjiang and established himself as a geographer and expert on desertification.

Determined to improve education for Uighurs and other minorities, said Nury, Tashpolat became president of Xinjiang University and a Communist Party member.

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