CSW joins family’s call for immediate release of Uyghur doctor Gulshan Abbas

CSW joins calls by the family of Uyghur retired doctor Gulshan Abbas for her immediate release from prison in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

On 12 June, Dr Abbas’ birthday, her daughter Ziba Murat tweeted a video calling for her mother’s immediate release. On the same day, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted: “Today is Gulshan Abbas’s 59th birthday, the third one she has spent unjustly imprisoned in Xinjiang. Her loved ones deserve the opportunity to celebrate with her, and she should be reunited with her family.”

Dr Abbas’ family lost all contact with her in September 2018 when she disappeared from her residence in Urumqi. On 25 December 2020, the family received news that Dr Abbas had been sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Chinese authorities on charges of terrorist activities. Her family says the charges are entirely false.

In an oral statement to the 46th session of the Human Rights Council in March, at the invitation of CSW, Ms Murat said her mother had underlying chronic health conditions, exposing her to a higher risk of grave illness. She added: “I must communicate with my mother. She must be released immediately on medical parole so she can receive treatment from medical professionals in Urumqi or abroad. Her passport must be returned to her without precondition.”

Pressure is mounting on the international community to take urgent action to demand that the Chinese Communist Party end human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim groups in the Uyghur Region, following numerous allegations of mass arbitrary detention, torture, division of families, forced sterilisation and birth control, sexual violence, forced labour, and the systematic repression of the right to freedom of religion or belief.

On 10 June Amnesty International issued a new report which states that China’s “Draconian repression of Muslims in Xinjiang” amounts to crimes against humanity. The report, based on the testimonies of over 50 former camp detainees, looks at the “extreme measures taken by Chinese authorities since 2017 to essentially root out the religious traditions, cultural practices and local languages of the region’s Muslim ethnic groups”, targeting ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Hui, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Tajiks.

The report contributes to a growing body of evidence which points to crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese authorities. From 4-7 June, witnesses and experts gave evidence to the UK Tribunal to Investigate China’s Alleged Genocide and Crimes against Humanity against Uyghur, Kazakh and other Turkic Muslim Populations. Further hearings will take place in September 2021.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “The scale and gravity of the human rights crisis in the Uyghur region can sometimes obscure the individual tragedies, but we must not allow this to happen. Words cannot express the suffering endured by Gulshan Abbas’ family and so many others  over so many months and years. We demand that the Chinese authorities bring this to an end. The voices of family members, witnesses and former detainees cannot be ignored any more. CSW urges members of the international community to join the family of Gulshan Abbas in calling for her release and for the release of all those arbitrarily detained, including those detained in connection with peaceful religious activities.”

CSW, csw.org.uk