The world knows her because of the campaign of her sister Rushan Abbas, who continued to ask the CCP where Gulshan was. There is now an answer. She is detained in a Xinjiang camp.
by Marco Respinti
Gulshan Abbas has been found. She is detained in Xinjiang, just as her relatives said for the past 21 months.
Gulshan is a Uyghur retired medical doctor, who used to work at the Nurbagh Petroleum Hospital in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region capital, Urumqi. Retired or not, she was apprehended and sent to one of those facilities that the CCP likes to call “vocational schools,” the dreaded transformation through education camps. While international documents mention that at least one million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims (and some Christians) are detained in those jail-like camps, independent researchers believe that the actual figure is closer to three million.
Dr. Abbas, 57, suddenly disappeared on September 11, 2018. Month after month, her relatives in the United States struggled to obtain news on her fate, and got the attention of some US Congressmen, but with no results. Now Radio Free Asia Uyghur Service reports they managed to interview a Han Chinese employee of the Nurbagh Petroleum Hospital’s CCP Cadres Office. It was thus confirmed “that Gulshan Abbas had been detained, although she was unsure of why or where the retired doctor had been taken.” Anonymously, the employee added, “We have studied and seen some of the archival materials and so forth about her, but I don’t know exactly which department took her away.” In fact, the notification about Dr. Abbas’s detention came “in an announcement circulated by higher-level officials,” but the employee “was unsure whether she had been placed in an internment camp.” This is all what is known.
A prisoner without a crime
Bitter Winter readers are familiar with this case. We have told Gulshan’s story by interviewing her sister, Ms. Rushan Abbas, founder and chair of Campaign for Uyghurs in Herndon, Virginia. She is persuaded that the Chinese government took her sister in retaliation to Rushan’s activism in the United States. “Six days after I spoke at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C.,” she explains, “both her and my aunt were abducted, although they live 1400 km away from each other. This is no coincidence. My sister has committed no fault, and she is being arbitrarily held as a prisoner for 22 months. A prisoner without a crime.”
One of Dr. Gulshan daughters, Ms. Ziba Murat, set up a web site to keep her mother’s memory alive and published a touching appeal on Mother’s Day in Bitter Winter in 2019. “We don’t know anything more on mom,” she told Bitter Winter. “They didn’t give out any other information, just that they’ve seen papers circulating in the hospital about her detention. Different people have been trying to get information about her several times before, without success. This news came a couple of days after I started a petition for the release of my mom. There are also two urgent actions for her release by Amnesty International, one in UK and one in the US. My plea to the international community remains the same: please, help me raise awareness on her case, and sign the petitions for her. Together we are stronger, each signature will take me one step closer to mom!”
Fake news, as usual
“I haven’t heard anything about my sister’s whereabouts, let alone whether she was alive or not for over 21 months, so, of course my initial feeling is relief because I at least have a confirmation that she is alive.”, Rushan Abbas told Bitter Winter. “However, it is not enough. I need my sister freed and get that confirmation from her personally. I am now working even harder to raise her case, and ensure her safe arrival home and reunion with her family. It is absolutely despicable that I learn the details of her imprisonment from a news report and not the government itself.”
Since Gulshan’s abduction, Rushan has been extremely vocal about her case, suffering retaliation. As she reported, “the Chinese government has gone to great lengths to discredit my accusations of her abduction by the government in the first place. The Global Times, a nationalist tabloid backed by the CCP, started a smear campaign claiming I am using fake pictures and lying about the abduction of my sister.”
Rushan wants “the world to see what kind of outrageous and illicit measures China goes to in order to silence me,” she told Bitter Winter. “I’ve made it a point to tag Chinese government officials when I demand her immediate release, to show them I know they’re accomplices in her abduction. A lot of them have already blocked me on social media. There isn’t anything else I can do, except continue to bring up her case, and expose the corrupt Chinese government.”
Dr. Gulshan Abbas will turn 58 on June 12. It will be another birthday behind bars.