Day of the Imprisoned Writer | Ken Whyte writes to Rahile Dawut

Dear Professor Rahile Dawut —

I have read about your outstanding investigations into Uighur ethnography, and your efforts to preserve folk customs, customs, and shrines on behalf of the Uighur people. Your renown as an anthropologist is well deserved, and all the more impressive given that you pursued your work in the face of crackdowns by the Chinese government.

As a strong believer in minority rights, intellectual freedom, freedom of conscience, and freedom of expression, I’ve long been disturbed by China’s treatment of its Uighur minority, including its politically-motivated imprisonment of prominent Uighur intellectuals. That you were detained in 2017 on your way to an academic conference and presumably relocated to a detention camp is unconscionable. No individual should be secretly detained on any grounds, least of all for scholarly pursuits and peaceful expression.

Please know that there are many of us around the world interested in the Uighur story and opposed to China’s burgeoning abuses of civil rights. We are especially concerned for your safety and wish you to be freed immediately to return to your family and community, and continue your admirable work.

Yours in solidarity,

Ken Whyte

Ken Whyte is the former editor-in-chief of Saturday Night Magazine, founding editor-in-chief of the National Post and  the author of The Uncrowned King: the Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst, a Washington Post, LA Times, and Globe & Mail book of the year.