U.S. demands release of Uighur doctor who is sentenced to 20 years in China

Uyghur human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer, center, stands behind protesters wearing masks in the colors of the East Turkestan flag during a rally against the Chinese government in Osaka, Japan. File photo   | Photo Credit: AP

The United States called onWednesday for the release of a Uighur Muslim medical doctor whose relatives say was sentenced to 20 years jail in China because offamily members' human rights activism in the United States.

Also read: China forcibly sterilises Uighurs to control population: report

The daughter of Gulshan Abbas told a briefing organized with the bipartisan U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) that the family had recently learned her mother received the sentence in March last year on terrorism-related chargesafter disappearing in September 2018.

The daughter, Ziba Murat, called the charges "preposterous."Gulshan's sister, Rushan Abbas, said they stemmed from activism by her and her brother Rishat Abbas, both of whom are based in the United States.

"We have committed to working to defend our people's rightsand advocate for justice, and now our sister is denied justice as a punishment," Rushan said.

In a tweet, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, Robert Destro, said Gulshan Abbas must be released.

"Her forcible disappearance, detainment and harsh sentencingby 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.

Ziba Murat said she could not reveal the source of theinformation on the sentencing to protect their identity. "Weonly learned that she is sentenced to 20 years, and we're trying to get more information."

"My mom is a medical professional, non-political, kindperson who has spent her life helping people," she said, adding that her mother was in fragile health and suffered from multipleconditions, including high blood pressure.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond when asked for details of Gulshan Abbas' status.

The CECC chairman, Democratic Representative James McGovern,called the punishment of an innocent family member in what hesaid was an attempt to silence free expression "morallyreprehensible."

He said it was just part of a "mass persecution" of Uighurs in China that has involved detention of as many as 1.8. millionin internment camps, forced labor and other abuses.

U.N. experts and advocates say at least a million ethnic Uighurs have been detained at some point in camps in China's Xinjiang region.

China calls the heavily guarded centers educational andvocational institutes, and says all those who attended have"graduated" and gone home. Access to the camps is restricted andit is not possible to independently verify whether all haveclosed.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 1:12:44 PM |

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