Action urged to prevent execution of celebrated Uyghur academic: a plea from Tashpolat Tiyip’s brother

For immediate release
September 13, 2019 10:30 am EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) urges action to avert the execution of Tashpolat Tiyip, a prominent Uyghur geographer and former president of Xinjiang University.

UHRP calls on legislators and government officials in concerned states to express their alarm to Chinese counterparts and to ask for the immediate release of Tashpolat Tiyip.

UHRP also urges civil society to join Amnesty International’s campaign to halt moves towards the execution of Tashpolat Tiyip. UHRP especially calls upon the Tokyo University of Science and the Sorbonne, overseas institutions linked to his academic career, to condemn the Chinese government’s persecution of Tashpolat Tiyip.

Nury Tiyip, Tashpolat’s brother, told UHRP: “How can it be that in the 21st century intellectuals are being murdered by authoritarian regimes like China? My brother Tashpolat is an educator. He devoted his life to knowledge and instructing younger generations. He had many successes in his academic life and the Chinese government even lauded his achievements. However, the same people who praised him shamelessly accused Tashpolat as a ‘separatist’ and handed him a death sentence with two-year reprieve.”

Nury Tiyip added: “The authorities have decided to expedite his execution. This not only violates international human rights law, but it also violates China’s own laws. As his brother, I cannot convey my distress at China’s decision to kill Tashpolat. All he wanted was to contribute to the improvement of humanity. I make a humble plea to the world to save my brother’s life."

In an Urgent Action notice issued on September 9, Amnesty International wrote: “Fears are mounting that the Chinese authorities will imminently carry out the execution of Tashpolat Tiyip, a prominent Uyghur academic who was convicted in a secret and grossly unfair trial.”

Amnesty International Asia-Pacific advocacy manager Francisco Bencosme told Radio Free Asia: “We have a high vetting process that usually involves consent from the family and multiple different sources…[Amnesty] only issue[s] urgent actions when it’s extremely a timely case for this to be raised.”

Early reports from February 2018 on Tashpolat’s condition indicated he had been purged from his post at Xinjiang University as part of a campaign aimed at rooting out “ “two-faced Uyghurs,” a term used by the Chinese authorities to describe individuals disloyal to the Communist Party.

Advocacy group China Change noted that Professor Tashpolat, “a scientist in geoscience and remote sensing,…was dismissed in March 31, 2017, and that probably was also the time when he was arrested.” He has since been held incommunicado.

In October 2018, Radio Free Asia reported Tashpolat Tiyip was sentenced to death with two-year reprieve on “separatism” charges.

According to further reports on Tashpolat’s arrest, he was detained while traveling to Germany for a conference with a group of students.

“The reports about Tashpolat’s imminent execution are profoundly disturbing. This is an individual who has committed no crime. He is now under threat of death for no reason other than he is a prominent Uyghur intellectual. Uyghur scholars, artists, and journalists are the culture bearers for our people, as such they present a threat to the Chinese Communist Party’s policies of ethnocide in East Turkestan,” said UHRP Director Omer Kanat in a statement from Washington, DC.

Mr. Kanat added: “We urge all responsible actors in the international community to prevent this travesty.”

See also:

UHRP REPORT: The Persecution of the Intellectuals in the Uyghur Region: Disappeared Forever? [October 22, 2018]

UHRP UPDATE: The Persecution of the Intellectuals in the Uyghur Region Continues [January 28, 2019]

UHRP UPDATE: Detained and Disappeared: Intellectuals Under Assault in the Uyghur Homeland [March 25, 2019]

UHRP UPDATE: 435 Intellectuals Detained and Disappeared in the Uyghur Homeland [May 21, 2019]

A Death Sentence For a Life of Service [January 22, 2019]