May 5, 2021
President Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
Xichengqu, Beijing Shi 100017
Dear President Jinping:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists (“CCS”) is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. For almost 50 years CCS has been helping persecuted scholars overcome injustice and return to their academic work.
We are writing to inquire into the status of renowned scholar, and former President of Xinjiang University, Tashpolat Tiyip. In March of 2017 Dr. Tiyip was removed from his position as President of Xinjiang University and he disappeared. It is our understanding that he was accompanying students to Germany for a conference when he was detained at the airport in Beijing. In 2018 it was reported that Dr. Tiyip had been tried for “separatism” and convicted, and that a suspended death sentence was issued with a two-year reprieve.
In December 2019, it was reported that your government denied that a sentence of death had been issued, and that in fact his case was ongoing. Since that time there has been no information as to the status of his case. It has been over four years since his dismissal from the university and subsequent disappearance. We are gravely concerned for his well-being and urge you to provide to us information on his whereabouts, his health, and his current legal status.
Dr. Tiyip is an accomplished scholar of geography who has published six books, written more than 200 scholarly articles, and led 17 national and international research projects. He worked on the remote sensing assessment of the impact of salinization, environmental change and human activities in the Taklimakan Desert, many of which were published in multiple languages.
During his distinguished career at Xinjiang University, Dr. Tiyip has taken on leadership roles of increasing responsibility, first as Chair of the Geography Department, then Vice President of the University, and finally, after 14 years, President. He was also Vice Secretary of the Communist Party at the University, and he has seemingly made a great contribution to the Chinese scientific community. He was widely praised for his development of the university before his detention in 2017.
He also built close relationships with university leaders in numerous other countries, and he is well-known and deeply respected internationally.
We, as his peers and colleagues, are asking you to, at the very least, provide basic information as to the whereabouts, health, and legal status of Dr. Tiyip. If his prosecution is the result of his legitimate scholarly work, or due to his ethnic identity, we urge you to see to it that he is released immediately and unconditionally and allowed to return to his important scientific work and academic leadership.
Thank you for your attention to this very important matter and we look forward to a response from you shortly.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
The Honorable Anthony Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
The Honorable Michelle Bachelet Jeria
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
The Honorable Wang Yi
Minister of Foreign Affairs
People’s Republic of China
No. 2, Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100701
Robert W. Forden
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in China
U.S. Embassy Beijing
55 Anjialou Road, Chaoyang District
Beijing, China 100600