20 December 2019

The University of Copenhagen supports doomed Chinese scholar


In a letter to the Chinese president, the Rector of the University of Copenhagen supports the doomed Chinese scholar and former university president, Dr. Tashpolat Tiyip. The letter of support is part of the efforts of Scholars at Risk.

Together with the other universities in Denmark, the University of Copenhagen has signed a joint declaration in support of scholar and former president of Xinjiang University in China, Dr. Tashpolat Tiyip.  The declaration of support has been sent to the Chinese president by the Danish section of Scholars at Risk, which consists of all Danish universities and the Department of Human Rights.

The Chinese authorities have sentenced Dr. Tiyip to death on grounds of instigating separatism in the Xinjiang province. The authorities accuse Dr. Tiyip of being a 'two-faced official', which is a term the Communist Party in China uses for party members who are suspected of instigating separatism.

Tashpolat Tiyip disappeared in March 2017, when Xinjiang University announced that he had been removed from his position as president. Shortly after this announcement, Dr Tiyip was detained in an airport in Beijing on his way to a conference in Germany with a group of students.

Dr. Tiyip belongs to the Uighurs, a Muslim minority group from the Xinjiang region in China. In 1992, he was the first Uighur to earn a PhD degree in geography in Xinjiang.

Systematic interventions against Uighurs

Scholars at Risk (SAR), an international network that works to protect academic freedom, has said that his apprehension is alleged to be associated with a campaign run by the Chinese authorities to detain a large number of ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where Dr. Tashpolat Tiyip comes from.

The Chinese authorities' systematic interventions against the Uighurs in the Xinjiang region have subsequently been described in a New York Times article. The American news media has published more than 400 pages of leaked Chinese documents, which for the first time disclose and confirm how China over a period of time has detained and organised systematic oppression of ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. The Chinese authorities have detained Muslims in ‘educational camps’, where the ethnic minorities are subjected to torture to force them to renounce their faith and religion.

Scholars and human rights groups have estimated that up to a million people, who belong to the minority groups in the area, have been detained in what the Chinese authorities call ‘vocational training centres for Muslims’.

The University of Copenhagen has been a member of Scholars at Risk (SAR) since June 2016. The New York-based organisation works to protect scholars who receive threats to their lives, are subjected to violence or imprisoned because they work with controversial topics or express criticism in the public debate. SAR has called on all members of the organisation to express their support in favour of the doomed scholar Dr. Tashpolat Tiyip.