Rahile Dawut: China sentences Uyghur scholar to life in jail
Chinese authorities have jailed a prominent Uyghur academic for "endangering state security", media reports said.
US-based rights group Dui Hua Foundation said it was previously informed by a Chinese official that Rahile Dawut was tried in December 2018, one year after her detention, for the crime of “splittism” — a crime of endangering state security — by an intermediate people’s court in Xinjiang.
She was convicted and appealed the sentence.
The most recent information confirmed that her appeal was subsequently rejected by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region High People’s Court, read a statement issued by Dui Hua Foundation.
Although there has been speculation that Professor Rahile Dawut was given a long sentence, this is believed to be the first time that a reliable source in the Chinese government has confirmed the sentence of life imprisonment, the foundation said.
Professor Rahile Dawut has published numerous books and papers on Uyghur folklore, and has lectured widely, including at Harvard University, Cornell University, and the University of British Columbia, among others. She was a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, Washington University, Indiana University, and Cambridge University.
Many organizations have called for Professor Rahile Dawut’s immediate release.
Rahile Dawut’s daughter, Akeda Pulati, has appealed to the Chinese government, “I worry about my mother every single day. The thought of my innocent mother having to spend her life in prison brings unbearable pain. China, show your mercy and release my innocent mother.”
John Kamm, executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation said: "The sentencing of Professor Rahile Dawut to life in prison is a cruel tragedy, a great loss for the Uyghur people, and for all who treasure academic freedom."
Who are Uyghur Muslims?
Uyghur Muslims are a Turkic minority ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia.
The Uyghurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China.