The president of Xinjiang University in northwestern China was removed from his post and detained last year, in what his fellow Uyghurs believe is that latest example of China’s crackdown on “two-faced Uyghurs” accused of insincerity in supporting government policies.
The website of Xinjiang University, the highest institute of learning in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, said the replacement of prominent scholar Tashpolat Teyip was announced at a meeting of Communist Party cadres on March 31, 2017.
The meeting, led by Xinjiang Communist Party Regional deputy secretary Li Pengxin, announced that Teyip (whose name is sometimes spelled Taxpolat Tiyip) had been removed from his post and replaced by Weli Barat, said the website, Bulaq Kol.
Teyip, a geographer with a doctorate from Tokyo University of Science who had served as university president from 2010, was praised for his commitment to serving the party with complete obedience, including “strictly implementing political ideology,” said the website.
Despite the praise, Teyip disappeared from public view after that meeting, and word in Uyghur society was that he had been detained and was being kept in a secret location, RFA’s Uyghur Service learned this month.
Chinese authorities and the country’s tightly controlled media have not released any information regarding Teyip, who was born in 1958.
Telephone calls to several university administrative departments, however, enabled RFA to verify that Teyip was under investigation, without yielding specific details of his case.
“Currently his crime has not been declared, and we have not been informed of anything,” said a staffer at the university president’s office.
“I can’t explain to you, as I am not sure about the exact facts,” the man said, before hurriedly ending the call.
At the university’s discipline and inspection department, a man told RFA that “at the moment (Teyip) is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.”
Asked what alleged offenses were being investigated, the man swiftly hung up the phone.
Purged from roster of historic presidents
At the school’s security department, the man who answered RFA’s call, simply said: “We cannot answer these questions, and please do not call this number again.”
Officials at the university’s human resources and administration departments, refused to comment.
Teyip’s name was also removed from the official list of presidents since the founding of Xinjiang University in 1924, when it was known as Xinjiang Russian and Law School.
His absence from the list is seen by Uyghurs as startling, because Sheng Shicai, a reviled Chinese warlord who had ruled Xinjiang with an iron fist before Chinese communist annexation of the region after 1949, is still listed despite serving only two years as university president.
Teyip’s rapid rise in his career included his appointment as dean of Xinjiang University’s geography department in 1996. As president of the university beginning in 2010, he was at the same time Communist Party deputy secretary.
His list of publications includes book contributions and numerous scientific articles on the subject of spectroscopy and long-distance sensing and their applications to measuring land cover and soil types.
Many Uyghurs believe he ran afoul of an unprecedented ideological purge unfolding in Xinjiang against so-called “two-faced” Uyghur officials—a term applied by the government to Uyghurs who do not willingly follow directives and exhibit signs of “disloyalty.”
The repressive measures against Uyghurs suspected of disloyalty were ushered in by Xinjiang Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, who was appointed to his post in August 2016.
China regularly conducts “strike hard” campaigns in Xinjiang, including police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and other material.
While China blames some Uyghurs for militant attacks, experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat from the Uyghurs and that repressive domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2009.
Reported by Kurban Niyaz for RFA's Uyghur Service. Translated by the Uyghur Service. Written in English by Paul Eckert.