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China arrests leading Uyghur intellectual

Detention of Halmurat Ghopur part of widening crackdown on prominent ethnic group members, observers say
China arrests leading Uyghur intellectual

This picture taken on June 26, 2017, shows police patrolling as Uygur Muslims leave the Id Kah Mosque after the morning prayers on Eid al-Fitr in the old town of Kashgar in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. China’s crackdown on the ethnic minority has now extended to its prominent members including leading intellectual Halmurat Ghopur. (Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP


Published: January 16, 2018 06:41 AM GMT
Updated: January 16, 2018 06:42 AM GMT

Authorities in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region have detained a leading Uyghur intellectual for displaying “nationalistic tendencies,” according to a source in exile, amid a widening crackdown on prominent ethnic group members.

Halmurat Ghopur, president of the Xinjiang Food and Drug Administration’s Department of Inspection and Supervision in the regional capital Urumqi, was arrested in November last year.

His whereabouts were unknown amid an investigation into his alleged “acts against the state,” Zumret Tursun, a Norway-based Uyghur activist told Radio Free Asia.

Tursun recently said one of her students was present when Ghopur, who is also the former president of Xinjiang Medical University Hospital in Urumqi, was arrested.

“He said Halmurat Ghopur was taken from his office, along with his computer,” she said.”

According to Tursun, when state security police came to arrest Ghopur, he demanded to know why he was being taken away and an officer told him he had exhibited “nationalistic tendencies.”

“He hasn’t had a hearing yet, but it is obvious that he will be tried in court,” she added.

Since April last year, Uyghurs accused of having “extremist” and “politically incorrect” views have been detained in political re-education camps.

Observers suggested that differences Ghopur had with Xinjiang Medical University secretary Li Bing may have led authorities to target him.

According to a recent article entitled “We Must Be Vigilant Against Hidden Two-Faced Officials,” published by China University of Political Science and Law professor Wu Danhong, Li had actively fought the “three evils” of terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism in Xinjiang, but Ghopur was critical of his approach.

According to the article, Ghopur was a “two-faced official” who had failed to follow Communist Party guidelines by recruiting students “not fit to fill their positions” at the university hospital, in an attempt to “fulfill his murky intentions.”

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