In 2017, Tashpolat Tiyip and a group of students were on the way to Germany to attend a conference when he was arrested at Beijing International Airport. He has been disappeared ever since, and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Born in 1958, Tashpolat Tiyip studied at the Tokyo University of Science, where he received a Doctorate of Engineering in Applied Geography in 1992. He became president of Xinjiang University in 2010.
“Xinjiang University faculty have been a focus for the Chinese authorities, given their prominence in Uyghur-produced scholarship conducted in the region,” states a January 2019 report by Uyghur Human Rights Project. “Twenty-one Uyghurs have been interned from the institution, including Dr. Tashpolat Teyip, Dr. Rahile Dawut, and Dr. Abdukerim Rahman.”
According to the report, “Since April 2017, the Chinese government has interned, imprisoned, or forcibly disappeared at least 338 intellectuals as part of its intensified assault on Uyghurs and extermination of their culture in East Turkestan. Five deaths in custody in this period have been confirmed, but the true number of intellectuals who have died in the camps, or died immediately after release, is unknown, given the veil of secrecy and fear.”
The government has publicly denounced Tashpolat Tiyip and other Uyghur intellectuals for being “negative examples” and “two-faced persons” – a term used by the Chinese authorities to describe people disloyal to the CCP. This is being done as part of the CCP’s campaign, abbreviated xue-su-fan (學肅反, literally “study, purge, and resist”) in Chinese, which was launched in August 2017. The full name of the campaign is “study speeches and circulars, purge pernicious influences, and resist infiltration.”
In the framework of the campaign, primarily aimed at Communist Party members, governmental, educational, and medical institutions in Xinjiang, authorities conduct meetings to study Xi Jinping’s speeches and present so-called “circular notices” with examples of “negative examples,” Tashpolat Tiyip being one of them.