The Human Rights Committee urges Chinese authorities to release Uyghur medical doctor

In a letter to the President of China Xi Jinping, the Human Rights Committee of Sweden’s Scientific and Literary Academies urges Chinese authorities to immediately release Chinese Uyghur medical doctor Dr. Gulshan Abbas, who has been imprisoned incommunicado since 2018.

The letter:

Stockholm 27 September 2022

Your Excellency,

We, the Human Rights Committee of Sweden’s Scientific and Literary Academies, contact you in a respectful spirit to express our extremely urgent concern about the treatment of Dr. Gulshan Abbas, a retired Chinese ethnic Uyghur medical doctor who reportedly is serving a 20-year prison sentence in an undisclosed location somewhere in China.

It is our understanding that Dr. Abbas disappeared from her home in Urumqi four years ago. In March 2019, she, reportedly, was secretly tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison for alleged terrorism-related charges. To our understanding, no official information has been released regarding evidence to substantiate the charges against her, whether she was given legal counsel at her secret trial, her place of imprisonment, or the State of her health and well-being. Reportedly, her family only learned about the charges brought against her and her sentencing in late December 2020.

The Human Rights Committee of Sweden’s Scientific and Literary Academies wants to express its deep concern and distress over the fact that Dr. Abbas reportedly has been denied any contact with her family since her disappearance in fall 2018 and that her whereabouts since then are unknown. Our concern for her well-being is heightened because we understand that she suffers from multiple chronic diseases that require close monitoring and regular medical treatment.

Given the information above, we find Dr. Abbas’ treatment inconsistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory and thus bound by the law of nations. Thus, we respectfully urge you to ensure that she is immediately and unconditionally released from prison. In the interim, we ask for your assistance in disclosing Dr. Abbas’ whereabouts and ensuring that her conditions of confinement are brought into conformity with the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), including that she be allowed regular access to her family, to legal counsel, and to any needed medical care.

Thank you, Your Excellency, for your attention to this important matter.

Respectfully yours,

Elisabeth Rachlew
Professor, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee of Sweden’s Scientific and Literary Academies includes members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, the Swedish Academy and the Young Academy of Sweden.