Updated: Apr 26, 2019
At least five ethnic Uyghur professors from Xinjiang University in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are being held in political “re-education camps,” according to one of their former colleagues.
Qutluq Almas, a former lecturer at Xinjiang University who lives in exile in the US, recently posted a message on social media saying that sources inside the region had confirmed to him that literature professors Abdukerim Rahman, Rahile Dawut, Azat Sultan, and Gheyretjan Osman, as well as language professor Arslan Abdulla, were detained in January and February 2018.
“According to credible information I have received, [Rahman] is currently held in a so-called ‘re-education camp,’ ” Almas said of the academic, who is in his 80s.
Established in 1924, Xinjiang University currently has an undergraduate enrollment of more than 20,000 students and counts among its alumni Dolkun Isa, the president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress exile group.
Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in political “re-education camps” throughout the XUAR. Members of the ethnic group in the region have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.
Last week, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US government was “deeply troubled” by the crackdown on Uyghurs in Xinjiang, adding that “credible reports indicate that individuals sent by Chinese authorities to detention centers since April 2017 numbers at least in the hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions.”
The official warned that “indiscriminate and disproportionate controls on ethnic minorities’ expressions of their cultural and religious identities have the potential to incite radicalization and recruitment to violence.”