Everything the Uyghur people are facing today in China will be the reality for the entire world if the Chinese Communist Party is not stopped, an American Uyghur activist has said.
Rushan Abbas, who has lived in the United States since 1989 and is an American citizen, is advocating against the genocidal policies targeting her people for decades, the Muslim minority of Uyghurs in China’s western Xinjiang province.
Formerly a business development director, Ms. Abbas quit her job to advocate around the world for her people back home, exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) genocide against the Uyghur community.
By 2017 it was known that 1 million Uyghur and other Turkic people were detained in concentration camps in Xinjiang, Ms. Abbas said. Ms. Abbas’ family members were also missing: her parents-in-law and their four children with their spouses, along with 14 of their nieces and nephews.
After Ms. Abbas spoke about these abductions by the CCP on YouTube, her sister, Gulshan Abbas, and her aunt went missing the same day.
“I realized [the] Chinese government did this to intimidate me,” Ms. Abbas said.
“I do feel guilty when I think about my sister being in jail, but at the same time, if I only think about myself or about my family only—there is something that is extremely important for all of us. That is the freedom and democracy in the world.”
It was because of that freedom that Ms. Abbas left her home and emigrated to the United States.
“The future of the free world that we know, and that most of us take for granted, that’s being endangered,” Ms. Abbas said, regarding her motive for exposing the CCP’s crimes.
Uyghur women are also facing forced sterilization and forced abortions, Ms. Abbas said, and about 1 million children are taken away from their families. Other women are pushed by the CCP to marry Chinese men. In these cases, “Where are the feminists?” she asked. “Where are the people who are supposed to defend children’s rights?”
“When the perpetrator of these crimes has the money and the power, they all decide to be silent," she said.
Regarding these politicians or celebrities who choose to look away, Ms. Abbas said that they are not only losing their freedom of speech, they are giving up the future of the free world, and the politicians are giving up their countries’ sovereignty.
If the CCP is not stopped now, she said, it is these people’s children and grandchildren who will face a tyrannical world.
A Policy of Appeasement“I was extremely frustrated when I saw the ‘most favored nation’ status was granted for China,” she said, referring to the time when the United States let China into the World Trade Organization in 2001.
With that move, the CCP got the money and leverage to become one of the world’s biggest dictatorships.
All kinds of privileges were given to the CCP at that time, Ms. Abbas said, and she tried to approach military officials through her contacts in the government and told them not to trust the CCP.
At that time she tried to warn that by giving the CCP what it wanted, it would not let its society become more open and have more freedom, or be better toward different faiths. This is because the CCP wants people in its society to completely submit themselves to the Communist Party, according to Ms. Abbas.
The CCP does not consider the Uyghurs as normal people, Ms. Abbas said, because this is the mentality of the Communist Party. People who have a religious background, different languages, and different cultures and ways of living outside the party’s culture are not considered normal.
Ms. Abbas said that the appeasement, the rewards, not holding the CCP accountable from the United States' side when evidence of mass internments surfaced after the persecution of Falun Gong in China, was what lead to the same tactics being used against the Uyghur population.
“Even today, with this much information, leaked document after leaked document from the Chinese government confirming the genocidal policies, and the victims' testimonies, former camp victims testifying what's happening inside of those camps—crematoriums are built next to the concentration camps, for a culture that doesn't practice cremation,” Ms. Abbas said.
No One Can Claim IgnoranceIn today’s information era, no one can claim they do not know about what's happening, Ms. Abbas said, comparing the current situation to what some were saying after the Jewish genocide during the Second World War.
Even the United Nations published a watered-down version of all the things Ms. Abbas was talking about, she said. The U.N.’s report confirmed the mass detentions, forced labor, forced sterilization, child abductions, torture, and abuse at the hands of the CCP.
When all these crimes are going to be listed in the history books, “they cannot claim ignorance any more,” Ms. Abbas said.
What the CCP does to Uyghurs, Falun Gong practitioners, South Mongolians, and Hong Kongers does not stay inside China’s borders, according to Ms. Abbas.
The CCP is expanding the persecution in Canada, the United States, and Europe, and harassing American and Canadian citizens. They are also expanding an all-encompassing police state in other parts of the world.
“How do you trust a country like China ... if they are doing something like this to their own citizens?”
She talked about the diplomacy trap the CCP is conducting all over the world, and the power of the Belt and Road Initiative, with which the CCP has gained leverage to many countries’ governments.
In that sense, the CCP’s invasion and infiltration of the world with "smiling faces" and "suitcases of money" is not as clear as Russia’s armed invasion into Ukraine, she said.
Holding Uyghurs of the Diaspora HostageThe CCP can pressure Uyghurs who live abroad by threatening their family members back home, as all of the Uyghurs abroad have family still in Xinjiang, according to Ms. Abbas.
The result is that people in China tell their relatives abroad not to speak up about the genocide, to not say anything.
In some cases, CCP consulate members directly call Uyghurs living abroad and tell them not to speak out if they want to see their parents well when they return.
“People are afraid, they are worried,” said Ms. Abbas, even if their family members are already detained or are very elderly.
She gave the example of her father-in-law.
Ms. Abbas was recently informed by distant family members that he passed away in January this year. The last time her husband communicated with his family was in 2017, Ms. Abbas said, saying that not letting people speak with their family abroad is an example of another form of persecution the CCP carries out against the Uyghurs, and it is how Uyghur families live in America, in today’s information age.
The Future of the West“Genocide is not an event,” Ms. Abbas said. It is a series of events that progress through 10 stages, from classification all the way to discrimination and finally extermination and denial of the crime, she said.
The CCP first labels a group and then demonizes it, stigmatizing their culture, their ethnicity, or their beliefs. It then uses disinformation and propaganda to create hatred in society against that group. The Uyghurs, for example, were labeled as backward, uncivilized, and criminal, “because all the normal aspects of religion are being criminalized,” Ms. Abbas said.
The disinformation is not limited within the CCP’s borders, though.
Ms. Abbas is herself being attacked daily in the CCP society’s social and traditional media. When she increased her efforts, carrying her sister’s photograph and protesting opposite the Chinese embassy, the U.N., and the European Parliament, a CCP newspaper published an article saying that she stole the photograph of someone else, claiming falsely that she was her sister. A few days later the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson spelled out her sister’s name, saying she was charged.
“It’s the same playbook against all the marginalized groups,” Ms. Abbas said, giving the examples of the persecution of Falun Gong, Tibetans, and those in Hong Kong.
“The entire region ... lost freedom and democracy,” she said about Hong Kong. “All of a sudden, Hong Kong became a part of this dictatorship.”
If people don't speak up and try to hold China accountable and bring an end these atrocities, the crimes will continue and will spread to the entire world, Ms. Abbas said.
Oppression Spreading AbroadMs. Abbas said she sometimes wonders whether she is in the United States or China.
She told a story about a time when she was invited to Columbia University to participate in a panel with a Hong Konger and a Tiananmen activist, but when she arrived, she found that the panel was canceled. The reason was probably that a Chinese student association protested, she said.
“I felt like I was at Beijing University," she said.
The universities are not alone in this. Media companies routinely choose not to cover important stories about atrocities in China.
In one of those stories, Ms. Abbas said, 13 tons of human hair were imported from Xinjiang to America and seized at the border.
“How many people does that represent? When something like this happens, it should be the breaking news all over the major media. Every reporter should cover this," she said.
But the story wasn't covered anywhere, Ms. Abbas said.
She said the CCP has five-year, 10-year, and even 100-year plans to reach its goals, while the United States doesn't even have a clear policy for engaging with the country.
She said China is already waging war against the United States and the West, and that the United States can't avoid it by appeasing the regime.
Ms. Abbas mentioned a saying in the CCP about how the last century was the century of humiliation for China, and this century will be China's century of retaliation.
"It's not retaliation against the Uyghurs or Tibetans or Hong Kongers or Falun Gong practitioners or South Mongolians," she said. "It's the retaliation against the West, retaliation against democracy. When are we going to wake up and see the reality?"
On a positive note, Ms. Abbas said that “we are making a difference,” because now everyone has heard something about the CCP being a dictatorship or about its genocidal policies, she said.
“The Uyghur activists, the former camp victims, journalists like yourself, we are making a difference," she said.
“I left my homeland in 1989. Left my parents, left my friends, left my home,” she said. “I came to United States because I was looking for something, which was the freedom and democracy. ... I will not stop fighting [to] protect that freedom and democracy and the fight against the CCP.”