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Rahile Dawut, Uyghur academic imprisoned in China

May 22, 2024 IN WIP
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Professor Rahile Dawut is an internationally acclaimed academic, anthropologist, and a leading expert on Uyghur folklore and cultural traditions.

In December 2017, Rahile Dawut was due to travel to Beijing for an academic conference, but never reached her destination. It was widely believed that she had been disappeared by the Chinese authorities.

Despite international condemnation of her disappearance and a campaign led by her daughter calling for her release, more than three years passed before her former co-workers were able to confirm that the Chinese authorities had sentenced and imprisoned her.

In September 2023, it was widely reported that a sentence of life imprisonment on charges of endangering state security by promoting ‘splittism’, originally handed down in 2018, has now been upheld.

The following month, Rahile Dawut was announced as the winner of the PEN Pinter Prize for a Writer of Courage.

Rahile Dawut continues to be held incommunicado and her whereabouts remain unknown.

You can send a message of support to Rahile’s family at the link below:

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International