Authorities in China should immediately and unconditionally release a prominent scholar of Uyghur culture who disappeared from the country’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in December and is believed held in a political “re-education camp,” according to a watchdog for academic freedom.
Rahile Dawut, a professor of Uyghur studies at Xinjiang University in the XUAR capital Urumqi, went missing in December 2017 after informing her family that she planned to travel to Beijing.
Family members announced her disappearance in August, and suspect she is among a growing number of Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas who since April 2017 have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout the XUAR, where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.
In a statement on Wednesday, New York-based Scholars at Risk (SAR)—an international network of institutions and individuals promoting academic freedom—said it is “gravely concerned” for Dawut, noting that authorities have not publicly disclosed her whereabouts or details of her well-being, access to legal counsel, or any charges against her.
“SAR calls for letters, emails, and faxes respectfully urging authorities to secure Professor Dawut’s immediate and unconditional release and pending this, to publicly disclose the circumstances of Professor Dawut’s detention,” the group said.