About 20 Uyghur teachers from a university in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region have been arrested, including the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) secretary of the school’s Marxism Institute, a Uyghur source in the town of Ghulja and local authorities told RFA.
Six of the educators from Ili Pedagogical University in Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) are being held in detention, including Abdullah Ismail of the Marxism Institute. He was abducted in 2018 and charged with being “two-faced,” the sources said. The CCP uses the term to describe an official or party member who is either corrupt or ideologically disloyal to the party.
The source in Ghulja, who has knowledge of the situation, sent RFA the names and phone numbers of two people who had worked closely with the school on Abdullah Ismail’s case.
When RFA called one of them, a staff member in the school’s Education Department, reluctantly acknowledged that she knew him but refrained from commenting on his situation.
Parhat Kadir, Abdullah Ismail’s former high school classmate who now lives in the Netherlands and is the former chairman of the Dutch East Turkistan Uyghur Union, said Ismail was well-liked in high school, where he was a top student and a skilled soccer player.
“Abdullah was my classmate from first to 10th grade,” he told RFA. “He was an honest and hardworking kid.”
Abdullah Ismail, who was born in 1962 in Ghulja’s Suidong township, was admitted to the Literature Department of the Ili Pedagogical University in 1981, Kadir said. After he graduated four years later, he began teaching at the school.
As secretary of the Marxism Institute, Ismail published research papers on Marxist theory in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Ili Gazette, the source said.
Ismail later was included on the list of suspicious persons in the school in 2017 when China stepped up its crackdown on Uyghurs by detaining them in “re-education” camps, and had been interrogated intermittently, the source from Ghulja said. He was charged with several criminal charges, though the source did not name them.
The preliminary questioning was conducted by the School Discipline Commission, according to the source who provided the phone number of a disciplinary officer in charge of the investigation that year.
The disciplinary officer confirmed that Ismail had been a member of school administration and was abducted in 2018.
He also said he met the teacher four or five years ago and had sent material he collected during his investigation to the relevant authorities.
“It was in 2017 that I was asked to collect and give his material to the school disciplinary committee,” he told RFA. “He was charged with being a two-faced person.
“He was a member of school administration before being CCP secretary of the Marxism Institute at Ili Pedagogical University,” the disciplinary officer said. “He was the secretary when he was arrested. Nobody knows or nobody told us how many years he was sentenced to [following arrest] in 2018.”
Behtiyar Nasir, deputy inspector general of the World Uyghur Congress, said he attended Ili Pedagogical University in the late 1980s when Ismail was a teacher there. He said Ismail had received a doctorate in philosophy from a university in Beijing.
Translated by RFA’s Uyghur Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.