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Press Release: World Uyghur Congress Denounces Dr. Rahile Dawut’s Sentencing to Life in Prison

Press Release: World Uyghur Congress Denounces Dr. Rahile Dawut’s Sentencing to Life in Prison

Press Release – For immediate Release
22 September 2023
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
+49 89 5432 1999 or [email protected]

The World Uyghur Congress denounces the sentencing of prominent Uyghur intellectual and scholar Dr. Rahile Dawut, by the Chinese authorities. Professor Rahile, founded the Minorities Folklore Research Center at the Human Science Institute of Xinjiang University and is a leading expert on Uyghur traditions and folklore. She was enforcibly disappeared in 2017 and tried one year after her detention, in 2018, for endangering state security. Research efforts by the Dui Hua Foundation have revealed that Dr. Rahile was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. This is the first time that a reliable source within the Chinese government confirms this.

“This heartbreaking news comes at a time when Beijing is trying to aggressively show the world that things have returned to normal in East Turkistan”, stated World Uyghur Congress President, Dolkun Isa. “The Chinese government wants to destroy the unique Uyghur ethnic identity and cultural heritage. By targeting our cultural elites and intellectuals, the preservation of our identity and history will be lost”.

Dr. Rahile’s disappearance follows suit in the Chinese government’s persecution of Uyghur intellectuals and religious figures. More than 300 cases of Uyghur intellectuals and other Turkic cultural scholars, who were detained and imprisoned, have been documented since 2016. Several prominent Uyghur elites are currently serving harsh sentences. In 2014 the Chinese government sentenced Uyghur professor, Illham Tohti, to life in prison and Dr. Gulshan Abbas, a retired physician was given a 20-year imprisonment sentence, after having disappeared in 2018. Additionally, starting 2017, the Chinese government has implemented various policies in an attempt to rewrite history textbooks and sentence editors and publishing house staff involved with printing and disseminating earlier versions of these documents. 

In recent years, some of these cases received wide coverage in the international press. UN Special Rapporteurs have also expressed alarm at the situation of Tashpolat Tiyip, Ilham Tohti, Yalqun Rozi and more recently of Qurban Mamut, Ekpar Asat and Gulshan Abbas. 

The World Uyghur Congress condemns the fallacious imprisonment and severe sentencing of Dr. Rahile Dawut. We call on the Chinese government to immediately release Dr. Rahile and for global governments to take urgent actions against the ongoing Uyghur genocide. Especially, leading academic institutions and universities, who continue to cooperate with Chinese entities, need to denounce the silencing of Uyghur scholars and the CCP’s infringement on academic freedom.