China: Halt the Execution of Renowned Scholar Tashpolat Tiyip

Posted September 13, 2019

Dr. Tashpolat Tiyip, a renowned scholar of geography and former president of Xinjiang University (XJU), is suspected to be at risk of execution as he nears the end of the two-year reprieve of his death sentence.

SAR has issued the below letter to Chinese officials, urging them to immediately intervene by pressing the appropriate authorities to halt the execution of Dr. Tiyip and secure his unconditional release.

Support Dr. Tiyip and the right to academic freedom by sending a copy of this letter under your own name!


President Xi Jinping
Xichengqu, Beijing Shi 100017
People’s Republic of China

September 13, 2019

RE: Halt the Execution of Renowned Scholar Tashpolat Tiyip

Your Excellency:

I write on behalf of the Scholars at Risk Network to express grave concern that Dr. Tashpolat Tiyip (also written “Teyip”), a renowned scholar of geography and former president of Xinjiang University (XJU), may be executed following the end of the two-year reprieve of his death sentence.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of more than 500 universities and colleges in 39 countries dedicated to protecting the human rights of scholars around the world, and to raising awareness, understanding of, and respect for the principles of academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of expression, opinion, thought, association, and travel. In cases like that of Dr. Tiyip, involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, Scholars at Risk investigates hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.

SAR understands that Dr. Tiyip has published five books and over two hundred scholarly articles and has led seventeen national and international research projects. Before serving in his position as president of XJU and deputy secretary of the Communist Party from 2010, Dr. Tiyip was the dean of the university geography department.

On March 31, 2017, XJU announced on its website that Dr. Tiyip had been removed from his position as president, without explanation. Following the announcement, Dr. Tiyip disappeared. Reports stated that Dr. Tiyip had been detained at an airport in Beijing while traveling to Germany with a group of students for a conference. In 2018, it was reported that, in a police film shown to students and teachers, Dr. Tiyip had been convicted and issued a suspended death sentence on a charge of “separatism.” SAR understands that his trial was held in secret, and sources now suggest that this sentence may soon be carried out as the two-year reprieve on his sentence nears its end.

We welcome any additional information that may explain these events or clarify our understanding. Absent this, the facts as described above suggest that Dr. Tiyip was arrested and detained in apparent connection to the nonviolent exercise of academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association—conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is signatory. In addition to the harm to Dr. Tiyip and his family, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and suggest an attempt to undermine academic communities and limit free expression.

We therefore respectfully urge you to immediately intervene to encourage the appropriate authorities to halt the execution of Dr. Tiyip, secure his unconditional release, and to drop any charges that stem from his peaceful exercise of the right to academic freedom. Pending this, we respectfully urge you to disclose his whereabouts; make any charges against him public; ensure immediately his well-being while in prison, including humane treatment and access to medical care, books, legal counsel, and family; and ensure that his case is addressed in a manner consistent with internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and imprisonment, in accordance with China’s obligations under international law.

We thank you for your attention to this important matter and look forward to your response.


Robert Quinn
Executive Director


The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520 U.S.A.

The Honorable Michelle Bachelet
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22-917-9011

The Honorable Mr. Wang Yi
Minister of Foreign Affairs, People’s Republic of China
No. 2, Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100701
Tel: 86-10-65961114

Ambassador Terry Branstad
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in China
U.S. Embassy Beijing
55 Anjialou Rd, Chaoyang District
Beijing, China, 100600
Fax: +86(10) 6532-692

The Honorable H.E. Mr. Cui Tiankai
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America
3505 International Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008 U.S.A.
Fax: +1 (202) 328-258

Chen Quanguo Shuji
Party Secretary of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
479 Zhongshanlu
Urumqi, Xinjiang
People’s Republic of China

Falun Jun
Director, Prison Administration Bureau of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region
No.626 Xinquanjie, Tianshanqu
Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, 830002
People’s Republic of China


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