17 March 2019
Nur Bekri, former National Energy Administration (NEA) chief, was expelled from the communist party, the corruption watchdog said on Saturday. Bekri is one of very few ethnic Uygur officials appointed at his level in the Chinese government. He was also vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, in charge of formulating and implementing economic and social development strategies. He was appointed governor of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in 2008.
He was accused of illegally accepting property directly or through his relatives. He was also accused of trading power for sex.
Footage from state broadcaster CCTV on Wednesday showed that he was last seen in public at a meeting this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as part of a Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Han Zheng. He was arrested at Beijing airport on his arrival there on Thursday.
Several top officials at China’s state-owned oil companies have been under close scrutiny in recent years. South China Morning Post reported.
Muslim Uygur minority in the Xinjiang region faces a draconian crackdown in the name of combating terrorism and separatism. A violence between the ethnic Uyghurs and the Han Chinese broke out in June 2009 which left 200 dead. This riot happened while Nur Bekri was the chairman of the regional government of the Xinjiang region in the country’s northwest. Muslim Uyghurs have criticized him for not protecting the community during the riots.
Two years ago, the Chinese government launched an extrajudicial mass detention of Uyghurs in re-education camps, which has been heavily criticized by the United States and other countries as well as human rights groups. Despite his all-out effort to prove his loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party by endorsing its brutal rule in East Turkestan, his sudden downfall is a clear indication that no Uyghur is safe under Chinese rule and no Uyghur is seen as loyal to the communist party.
Since April 2017, at least hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Uyghurs have been sent by Chinese authorities to the re-education camps since April 2017, the State Department said recently. President Donald Trump’s administration is considering sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the Xinjiang detentions. France and Germany have called for the camps to be shut down. Chinese officials say the camps are for vocational training and not political re-education. Radio Free Asia reported.
A prominent ethnic Uygur economics professor, Ilham Tohti, was detained for his fight for the rights of the Muslim Uygur community. United States and Europe criticised his arrest. The case against Tohti is the latest sign of the government’s hardening stance on dissent in Xinjiang.
China has blamed some of the violence on Islamist militants and separatists who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan. South China Morning Post reported.