Dr. Ablimit Yasin, a young Uyghur professor of folklore at the School of Humanities, Xinjiang University, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, sparking concerns among Uyghur scholars like Abduweli Ayup, who was the first to report this case, regarding the fate of prominent Uyghur academics in the region.
Dr. Yasin’s arrest took place at the end of 2017, along with that of his supervisor, Dr. Rahile Dawut, while they were en route to a conference in Beijing. The sentencing was handed down in 2019, amidst the escalation of the CCP’s genocidal policies in the region. Dr. Yasin, known for his studies in Islamic history, had also been sent to Iran by the university for religious studies.
Hailing from Kaghliq County of Kashgar, Dr. Ablimit Yasin was described by acquaintances as a humble and reserved individual with a penchant for reading. He was known for his warm smile and his reluctance to engage in extensive conversations. Despite his reticence, he was highly respected among his peers and students for his dedication to academia and passion for his field of study.
Like other disappeared Uyghur professors, public records and personal profiles of Dr. Ablimit have vanished from online sources, such as his employer’s website.
Notably, Dr. Rahile Dawut, Dr. Yasin’s supervisor, has also garnered significant attention in the academic and human rights communities. An accomplished scholar, Dr. Dawut is renowned for her expertise in Uyghur folklore and her efforts to preserve Uyghur cultural heritage. Her disappearance and detention alongside Dr. Yasin have raised alarm among advocates for academic freedom and the protection of Uyghur cultural identity.
The Chinese government has repeatedly defended its policies in the region, stating they are aimed at counteracting extremism and promoting stability.
The sentencing of Dr. Ablimit Yasin and the ongoing detainment of Dr. Rahile Dawut serve as a reminder of the challenges faced by Uyghur academics and cultural figures in their homeland, raising pressing questions about the state of academic freedom and human rights in the region.