The United States has called for the release of a Uyghur Muslim doctor who has been sentenced to 20 years of jail in China because of her family members’ human rights activism in the United States.
Gulshan Abbas is the sister of activist Rushan Abbas, who has been vocal about the Chinese Communist Party’s atrocities against Muslim minorities in China.
The daughter of Gulshan Abbas told a briefing organised with the bipartisan US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) that their family had recently learned that her mother received the sentence in March last year on terrorism-related charges after disappearing in September 2018.
Meanwhile, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Abbas was sentenced for the crimes of joining a “terrorist” organisation, helping terrorist activities and “assembling a crowd to disrupt social order”.
“We urge certain politicians in the United States to respect facts and stop fabricating lies and smearing China,” the spokesman, Wang Wenbin, told a news conference.
The daughter, however, called the charges “preposterous”. Gulshan’s sister, Rushan Abbas, said the charges are the consequence of activism by her and her brother, Rishat Abbas, both of whom are based in the US.
Taking to Twitter, US assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, Robert Destro, said Gulshan Abbas must be released.
“Her forcible disappearance, detainment and harsh sentencing by the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is evidence of a family suffering the consequences of speaking out against a government that has no respect for human rights,” he said.
The CECC chairman, Democratic Representative James McGovern, called the punishment of an innocent family member in what he said was an attempt to silence free expression “morally reprehensible”.
He said it was just part of a “mass persecution” of Uighurs in China that has involved the detention of as many as 1.8 million people in internment camps, forced labour and other abuses.