Uighur scientists, intellectuals remain unaccounted for

ANKARA (AA) – International organizations such as the European Parliament (EP) and Amnesty International have drawn attention to unaccounted for scientists and intellectuals of the Uighur community.

Many intellectuals and academics in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are suspected of being held in concentration camps.

More than one million Uighur Turks have been detained in prison or faced arbitrary arrests in China since 2016.

According to information collected by Anadolu Agency reporters from the EP, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), there are many well-known academics, scholars, artists, professional athletes and scientists among the disappeared Uighur community leaders.

Muhammad Salih Hajim, one of the most important religious scholars and opinion leaders of the Uighur community, as well as academics Abdulnehed Mehsum and Ayhan Memet died while they were held in concentration camps.

The EP's decision on Oct. 4, 2018 expressed great remorse for these deaths.

Despite calls from the international community, academics such as Eli Mamut, Hailaite Niyazi, Memetjan Abdulla, Abduhelil Zunun and Abdukerim Abduwel, who have been mentioned in the EP report, are being detained by the Chinese administration for arbitrary crimes.

The disappearance of Rahile Dawut, a prominent scholar and anthropologist, made global headlines.

Amnesty International's report: "China: Where are They?" included statements by Akeda, daughter of Rahile Dawut, saying that she had not heard from her mother since December 2017. She fears that her mother could be in one of the concentration camps.

Some other well-known names that the Uighur diaspora and their associations deem unaccounted for are as follows:

  • Gulpina Tasmemet, former Xinjiang University faculty member
  • Abdulkadir Celalettin, a historian
  • Ekber Omar, former director of Kasgar University
  • Taspolat Teyip, former rector of Xinjiang University
  • Professor Abdurrahman Bey
  • Gayretcan Osman, classical literature writer
  • Alim Ahat, founder of technology company Uygursoft

-International reactions to China

International human rights organizations have brought to attention millions of Uighurs in Xinjiang who are kept in Chinese concentration camps under the pretext of "re-education".

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination organized a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, where human rights organizations declared that Chinese authorities detain Uighurs as prisoners in "political re-education” camps.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that a large number of individuals were detained in the past two years under the pretext of "preventive police measures" and sent to concentration camps called "political re-education" camps without any judicial decision.

Turkey also called on the international community and the UN chief “to take effective measures in order to bring to an end this human tragedy in Xinjiang”.

China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

China stepped up its restrictions on the region in the past two years, banning men from growing beards and women from wearing veils and introducing what many experts see as the world’s most extensive electronic surveillance program, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Up to 1 million people, or about 7 percent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to U.S. officials and UN experts.

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