Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have arrested a leading Kyrgyz historian for an as of yet “undecided” crime after he published dozens of articles and several books examining the golden era of his ethnic group’s history, according to official sources.
Askar Yunus, a 49-year-old researcher at the History Research Department of the Academy of Social Sciences of Xinjiang, was taken into custody late last month from his home in the regional capital Urumqi, a staff member from the institution told RFA’s Uyghur Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We were informed at a meeting,” the staff member said, adding that “there are some problems with him.”
The staff member conceded that he was unsure of why Yunus was detained because his crime “hasn’t been decided yet,” without providing further information.
A staff member at the academy’s Discipline Inspection Office, who also declined to be named, confirmed that Yunus had been arrested, but said he was unsure of the details of his case and referred questions about what he had done wrong to the History Research Department.
According to biographical information found online and his colleagues, Yunus’s work over the past 26 years covered the ethnic history of the XUAR and Central Asia, with a focus on that of the Kyrgyz people.
A member of the Chinese Intellectual Foreign Affiliation Society and the Xinjiang History Association, Yunus had published more than 40 articles and several books about the Kyrgyz from the 19th century onwards, as well as relations between Kyrgyzstan and China and their impact on the region now known as the XUAR.