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DOIW 2021 – Take Action for Rahile Dawut (China: Xinjiang)


Name: Rahile Dawut

Occupation: Scholar

Situation: Imprisoned

#FreeRahileDawut #FreeRahile #ImprisonedWriter 

Background

Born in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China (PRC), Rahile Dawut is a prominent anthropologist and leading expert on the study of Uyghur folklore and cultural traditions. An associate professor at Xinjiang University and founder of the university’s Minorities Folklore Research Center, Dawut is recognised internationally for her unique contribution to the study and cataloguing of Uyghur cultural heritage. Her work was also recognised and supported by the PRC government. In 2016, just a year before she was initially detained, Dawut received a research grant from the Ministry of Culture, reportedly the largest ever given to a Uyghur research project

Dawut disappeared in late 2017, shortly after making plans to travel from Xinjiang to Beijing to participate in an academic conference. It is presumed that the PRC government is responsible for her disappearance, holding her in secret without confirmation of her detention for over three years, despite international outcry and media attention, and a campaign led by Dawut’s daughter calling for her release

In July 2021, investigative reporting by Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service confirmed her imprisonment according to sources within Xinjiang University.  

Dawut’s imprisonment is emblematic of the Chinese government’s efforts to dislocate the Uyghur population from their cultural identity and heritage through overwhelming levels of censorship and repression. Since the establishment of Xinjiang’s expansive network of re-education camps in 2017, over a million Uyghurs and other minorities have been detained, including hundreds of writers, poets, translators, scholars and public intellectuals, who together represent the living embodiment of Uyghur culture.

Take Action

PEN International considers Rahile Dawut’s imprisonment to be a clear breach of her right to freedom of expression and calls for her immediate and unconditional release. This is what you can do:

Advocacy

  • Write a letter or e-mail to the PRC authorities, calling for her immediate and unconditional release. Here is a sample letter you can adapt
  • Spread the word and encourage others to support this case 

Social media

Raise awareness about Rahile Dawut’s case on social media, using the sample messages below and the hashtags #FreeRahileDawut #FreeRahile #ImprisonedWriter 

Facebook

  • The imprisonment of anthropologist and leading expert on the study of Uyghur folklore, Rahile Dawut, is a clear breach of her right to freedom of expression. Today I join PEN International in calling for her immediate and unconditional release. Please take action today to #FreeRahileDawut #FreeRahile #ImprisonedWriter [insert link]
  • I believe in people’s right to freedom of expression. This is why I join PEN International’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer campaign and take action on behalf of Rahile Dawut. You can join us too. Write a letter to the PRC authorities, call for her immediate and unconditional release #FreeRahileDawut #FreeRahile #ImprisonedWriter [insert link]

Twitter

  • The imprisonment of Rahile Dawut, leading expert on the study of Uyghur folklore, is a breach of her right to free expression. Today I join @pen_int in calling for her release. Please take action today to #FreeRahileDawut #FreeRahile #ImprisonedWriter RT [insert link]
  • I believe in people’s right to free expression. This is why I join @PEN_Int ’s Day of the #ImprisonedWriter campaign and take action on behalf of Rahile Dawut. Write a letter to the PRC authorities, call for her release. #FreeRahileDawut #FreeRahile RT [insert link]

Please share this graphic on social media to highlight Dawut’s case.

Solidarity 

Please consider electing Rahile Dawut as an honorary member of your Centre. 

Outreach

We also encourage you to highlight the case of Rahile Dawut by:

  • Publishing articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press;
  • Asking academic institutions to take action on her behalf;
  • Organising public events, press conferences and demonstrations.

Please keep us informed of your activities. Messages can be sent to Ross Holder, Asia Programme Coordinator: [email protected]