RFA: Scholars Reflect on Legacy of Uyghur Folklore Research Founder, Now in Detention

“I consider Abdukerim Rahman an outstanding folklorist, the best in his generation.”

These words, written in an email to RFA’s Uyghur Service by Dr. Ildikó Bellér-Hann of the Department of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen, may in fact be an understatement.

Rahman, born 1941 in Kashgar, is considered by many to be the founder of Uyghur Folklore studies. He had an impressive career of more than 50 years at Xinjiang University and as a loyal member of the Communist Party, was often celebrated by the Chinese government for his academic contributions.

Many Uyghurs were shocked when in January 2018, he and other literature professors were detained by the government.

Last month an RFA source confirmed that he had been punished for being “two-faced”—a term applied by the government to Uyghur cadres who pay lip service to Communist Party rule, but secretly chafe against state policies repressing members of their ethnic group.

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