Confirmed Uyghur literature professor detained in Xinjiang – Radio Free Asia

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A professor who has researched and written on classical Uyghur literature for more than 40 years is serving a 10-year prison sentence in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, officials confirmed to RFA academics and other sources within the troubled region.

Gheyratjan Osman, a prolific scholar at Xinjiang University’s School of Philology, was taken in 2018 amid a purge of Uyghur intellectuals and cultural leaders – one of the Chinese government policies that have been determined by the United States and others to constitute genocide.

The abuses also include forced labor in factories and farms, forced birth control and the detention of up to 1.8 million Uyghurs in a network of internment camps.

Gheyratjan, 63, who has written more than 30 books and 100 scientific articles and has attended dozens of international academic conferences, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on vague charges of separatism in May 2020, sources said. Among the evidence presented against him was that he had given a lecture at a university in Japan and attended a lecture on Turkology in Turkey, the sources said.

His conviction came to light when his family recently received a notice that he had been sentenced to a 10-year sentence, handed down by an official at Xinjiang University, where Gheyratjan had spent most of his career, said. a source close to the situation who refused to be identified in order to be able to express himself freely.

Over the past year, Xinjiang University has held a number of secret meetings for administrators in which school officials report the alleged crimes and fate of detained instructors, the source said. The meetings appear to be intended in part to serve as a warning to administrators and are being kept secret from instructors and students, he said.

In a meeting, officials gave information about Gheyratjan, saying he had “rejected the national culture” – a reference to the majority Han Chinese culture – and “instilled separatist ideology in generations of Uyghur students “By giving excessive praise to Uyghur culture in his research,” he said. .

When Gheyratjan was previously a visiting scholar at a government research institute XUAR for science and culture, “problems” were discovered in some of the lectures he gave there, the source said.

The professor had lectured at a university in Japan, where some of the examples he used in class may have been seen as a “rejection of Chinese culture,” he said. Gheyratjan also attended a conference in Bursa, Turkey, in 2008, where he discussed Uyghur culture, which authorities interpreted as “separatist propaganda.”

The case is a “state secret”

An employee of the Xinjiang University Executives Department refused to speak about the professor during a call from a RFA reporter, although the staff member did not deny reports that Gheyratjan had been sentenced.

A second university official mentioned Gheyratjan by name when RFA asked what prison terms the instructors had recently discussed at a meeting at the school, but the person declined to provide any additional information, including the reason for his conviction and imprisonment.

A third staff member from Xinjiang University confirmed that the professor was in prison, although he said he did not know the reason.

When asked about the accuracy of the academic’s various accounts, university officials said the case was a “state secret,” which meant they couldn’t answer the question.

Gheyratjan was born in the city of Kashgar (Chinese, Kashi) in 1958 and was admitted to the Uyghur Language and Literature Department at Xinjiang University in 1978, according to an online biography.

The professor spent the next 40 years of his life teaching and researching at Xinjiang University until he was arrested by authorities in 2018.

His published works included Uyghurs in the East and West and The history of classical Uyghur literature. In addition, he has contributed to the development of literature and textbook programs for students studying Uyghur language and literature at Xinjiang University, and has advised generations of young Uyghur graduate students.

Reported by Shohret Hoshur for the RFA Uyghur service. Translated by Uyghur service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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