[FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW] Back in September 2018, just days after Rushan Abbas spoke at a Hudson Institute panel about the genocide of the Uyghurs, authorities in China arrested her sister and her aunt.
“Two of my closest living relatives left back home, they both got picked up on the same day from 1,400 kilometers away from each other … as retaliation for my speaking out,” Ms. Abbas says.
Her sister was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Many Uyghurs abroad are being blackmailed by the Chinese regime and their families held hostage, Ms. Abbas says. She is the founder and executive director of Campaign for Uyghurs.
Evidence is also mounting that the CCP is killing large numbers of Uyghurs for their organs.
Jan Jekielek: Rushan Abbas, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Rushan Abbas: Thank you Jan, for giving me the chance to talk about this atrocity against my people.
Mr. Jekielek: I've been following your work for quite a while and it's high time to have you on the show. It's a particularly difficult time for you because it's the fifth anniversary of your sister's abduction. This abduction is a case in point around what you were testifying about today in Congress, which is transnational repression courtesy of the CCP. The long arm of the Chinese Communist Party is coming into other countries and persecuting people there in various ways. Let’s start there. What happened with your sister and how does this all connect?
Ms. Abbas: Again, thank you so much. Just five years ago I had a successful career. I was working as a business development director, enjoying my family, and also advocating for my people against the genocidal policies implemented harshly against the Uyghur people. In 2017, we heard that about one million Uyghurs were detained and put in concentration camps.
On September 5th, 2018, I participated in a panel at the Hudson Institute, one of the think tanks here in Washington DC. I was talking about China's genocidal policies and outlining the fate of my in-laws. By that time my husband Abdulhakim Idris' entire family had gone missing; my parents-in-law, three of my sister-in-laws and their husbands, my brother-in-law and his wife, and 14 of their nieces and nephews. I talked about this and it was televised on YouTube.
Six days after this, my own sister, Gulshan Abbas, a retired medical doctor, and my aunt, also a retired school teacher, two of my closest living relatives back home, both got picked up on the same day 1400 kilometers away from each other. That's over 900 miles apart in two different cities. They got picked up on exactly the same day as a retaliation for my speaking out against the CCP. I am an American citizen. I have been living in the United States since 1989, yet my exercised freedom of speech and my First Amendment right cost my own sister's freedom.
Mr. Jekielek: In a way, this changed everything. Because on one hand, you had this incredible intimidation and backlash from the CCP for what you did. But at the same time it gave you a voice, and maybe a strength. Please tell me what happened.
Ms. Abbas: I realized the Chinese government did this to intimidate me and try to silence my voice. I didn't want them to have that kind of power over me. I quit my full-time job and I became a full-time activist and advocated around the world as the voice for my people back home and my sister, and to expose China's crimes and the genocide.
The one thing that the Chinese government did not realize when they took my sister is the power of love, because they never understand the power of love. I love my sister. The love I have for my sister, the love I have for my people, and the love I have for freedom and democracy, that's actually refueling me. I gain strength from that love and fight onward every day.
Mr. Jekielek: How do you respond to people that say, “You're endangering your relatives by doing this?” I've certainly heard people say that in different contexts.
Ms. Abbas: I do feel guilty when I think about my sister being in jail, but at the same time, I can’t only think about myself or my family. There's something that is extremely important for all of us, and that is freedom and democracy in the world. It is the freedom and democracy I left my family and my friends and my hometown for, and that I came to the United States for. All that is at stake right now. It's not just about my sister, my family, my in-laws, the Uyghurs, or the other people in East Turkestan. It's not just that their future is at stake.
It’s the future of the entire free world that we know and most of us take for granted is being endangered. The Chinese government is the biggest threat to our freedom and democracy. The audience who is listening, their parents and their grandparents worked so hard to establish this over the last 70-some years. That's what we are losing by this transnational repression, and by the Chinese government's infiltration throughout the world.
Now, we see many celebrities, CEOs, talk show hosts, Disney, Hollywood, and NBA stars being so vocal against any kind of social injustice, and rightfully they should. But where are they when the Chinese government is conducting an active genocide against the Uyghur people, when Uyghur women are facing forced sterilization and forced abortions, and when about 1 million children are taken away from their families? Uyghur women are forced to marry Han Chinese men, which is sponsored by the government.
Where are the feminists? Where are the people who are supposed to defend children's rights? When the perpetrator of those crimes has the money and the power, then they all decide to be silent and look away. But one thing that they don't realize is they're not just giving away their freedom of speech. Those politicians, celebrities, VIPs, and world leaders are not just giving up their freedom of expression or freedom of speech.
They are giving up the future of the free world. They're giving up the sovereignty of their countries if they are the leaders of the countries that are giving into totalitarian regimes like China. If we don't take action and hold China accountable or stop the Chinese government now, it will be their children and grandchildren who will pay the consequences of an illiberal world.
Mr. Jekielek: I want to get you to qualify what you're saying, but first let's talk about how you have been working at this for a long time. Can you chart that course for me? We're talking about before China even got permanent trade relations and joined the WTO [World Trade Organization]. People have said to me that that was the single worst decision, and that we have in effect built the worst dictatorship in the world from that time in the early 2000s. What happened from then on with human rights related to the Uyghur people?
Ms. Abbas: I was a reporter at Radio Free Asia in 1998 when Radio Free Asia added a Uyghur service. I was the first Uyghur reporter and I lived in Washington at that time. I had many opportunities to talk to lawmakers working with the Human Rights Commission. Now it's the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. I met with the late congressman Tom Lantos and our current champion for human rights, Representative Chris Smith. I was extremely frustrated when I saw the most favored nation status was granted for China. Because before that, that was the only piece of leverage the United States had over China to review their human rights records.
But then, we brought them into the World Trade Organization, giving them all kinds of privileges. I remember that I kept repeating myself like a broken record, talking to the people in the different parts of the State Department and Pentagon. I had connections with some of the military generals, lieutenants, and colonels. I approached them and always tried to tell them, “Don't trust the Chinese government. The CCP is not an ally. They are the enemy of humanity. They're doing this kind of oppression.”
I used to list what they were doing to the Uyghurs, all the people of East Turkestan, the Tibetans, and the Falun Gong practitioners. I tried to warn them. I wish they would remember what I said back then, and I hate to say I told you so a long time ago. But unfortunately, many people believe that if we keep investing in China, keep giving them the technology, keep giving them the money, and keep giving them all the privileges, they are going to open up and become a more democratic, free society. No.
We knew this back then. We tried to warn the people here in America they were not going to become like a free country with freedom of speech or any kind of respect for human dignity. Because a country like China feels threatened by any kind of freedom, and even by any kind of religious belief. They want people to completely submit themselves to only the Chinese Communist Party.
Any kind of religious, ethnic, or linguistic differences are a threat to them. When this mass detention started in 2017 and 2018, Cui Tiankai, the former Chinese Ambassador to the United States was interviewed about those camps. He bluntly and openly said, "We are taking those Uyghurs to the camps. We are trying to make them normal people."
The Uyghur people, because of their religion, their ethnic background, their history, and the language they speak, the Chinese government doesn't even consider them to be normal people. This is the mentality of the Chinese Communist Party.
Mr. Jekielek: In the early 2000s the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners was already well known. In 2006 we started getting evidence of the organ harvesting industry that had been created in China. There were a few heroic people like Congressman Smith talking about these things very early on, but it was rare.
In 2017, we became aware of this large-scale imprisonment of the Uyghurs. I thought to myself, “People should try to hold the Chinese regime to account for these mass internments.” There were millions of people in these labor camps, but there was very little reaction. Do you think that led in some way to what happened to the Uyghur people in 2017?
Ms. Abbas: Absolutely. The appeasement, continuously taking everything as it is, not speaking out, not holding China accountable, and rewarding China with all the privileges brought to this point today. The 2008 Beijing Olympics was actually China's turning point on human rights. They acted like they respected a little bit of freedom here and there, when actually they were really oppressing the Falun Gong practitioners and the Tibetans and the Uyghurs.
Forced labor had already started. They were taking the Uyghur youth to China proper, and forcing them to work in factories for almost nothing. All that was happening and the United States government knew about everything that China was doing at that time, but we did absolutely nothing about it. And not just that—the international community also rewarded China with the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Mr. Jekielek: Then also a second time, I might add.
Ms. Abbas: During the middle of an active genocide, we rewarded them the Winter Olympics.
Mr. Jekielek: The whole premise of the 2008 Olympics was an opportunity for the CCP to become a more responsible leadership, but the opposite happened. That was predictable for people like yourself.
Ms. Abbas: Yes. The Chinese government learned very quickly that they could get away with almost anything. Right after the Beijing Olympics, they cracked down on the demonstrators in Tibet, and then there was the 2009 Urumqi massacre. There was absolutely no voice coming out from the United States government during the Obama administration. That was the testing of the waters for the Chinese government, and then immediately they started to crack down more and more on people.
After the Urumqi massacre, 40,000 Uyghur youth disappeared. Human Rights Watch did the report, and no questions were asked. The United States is continuously investing in China, even today with this much information. There is leaked document after leaked document from the Chinese government confirming the genocidal policies. There are testimonies from former camp victims about what's happening inside of those camps. Crematoriums are being built next to the concentration camps for a culture that doesn't practice cremation.
Organ harvesting started with the Falun Gong practitioners, but now it's very common for the Uyghurs. There were video clips advertising halal organs in the Muslim majority countries and in Arabic speaking countries. All this is happening, yet we still continue to appease the genocidal CCP regime. I often think about what happened to the vow, “Never again?” After World War II, many people had regrets and said they should never allow something like this to happen again to humanity.
They knew back then what Nazi Germany was doing to Jewish people, but they continued to do business as usual with Nazi Germany, empowering Nazi Germany's economy to murder more people. Then later they all claimed ignorance. They knew what was happening, but they said information flow was too slow and they didn't know all these details. Nobody can claim ignorance anymore. This is the information era, and there is overwhelming evidence. Even the United Nations Human Rights Council released their report.
Mr. Jekielek: Grudgingly, and under a lot of pressure, I might add. I had the impression they didn't really want to publish that report.
Ms. Abbas: No. Michelle Bachelet was in her seat to warn the Human Rights Council to not criticize the Chinese government and not to release the report. She sat there the entire time during her term and then last within the 15 minutes of her term, she released the report. Although it was watered down because of the pressure by the Chinese government, it still confirmed everything that we have been saying for years; mass detention, forced labor, forced sterilization, child abduction and torture. All these are the elements of the United Nation's own description of the crimes of genocide.
Out of those five elements, if one is happening, you can call it genocide. In their own report, they listed quite a few of them, but they didn't call it genocide. They said it might constitute crimes against humanity, but they actually have all the crimes listed. With that much information, these people are continuously engaging with China in business as usual. All these people are still saying that we need to work with the Chinese government. We need to have a friendly dialogue and continue to benefit from the Uyghur people's forced labor. When all these crimes are listed in the history books, they cannot claim ignorance anymore.
Mr. Jekielek: For those that might not be aware, genocide doesn't just mean the mass killing of people. Genocide means policies enacted that are designed to eliminate or eradicate a group of people by whatever means, including cultural assimilation and sterilization. You mentioned many of these elements. There is a question if it’s genocide or if it’s crimes against humanity. That's a false dichotomy. They are simply terrible things that should never happen. How can you expect a regime to treat you reasonably if they do those things to their own people?
Ms. Abbas: Exactly. Not only that, what the Chinese government is doing to Uyghurs, Tibetans, Southern Mongolians, Falun Gong practitioners and the Hong Kongers is not just staying within their borders. They are expanding it all over the world. They are running police stations in Canada, the United States, and all over Europe, and they are harassing American citizens and Canadian citizens. They are exporting the complete surveillance police state implemented in East Turkestan to other parts of the world.
This is not just staying in East Turkestan or in Tibet or in Hong Kong. How do you trust a country like China, as you said, if they are doing something like this to their own citizens? What kind of future will they bring to the international community? We all saw what happened when we continued to appease a dictator with Putin's invasion of Ukraine. But Putin's invasion came in broad daylight with tanks and armed soldiers. China's invasion of the world is coming in with smiley faces, suitcases full of money, infiltration, and manipulation.
You can look at the threat diplomacy that they are conducting all over the world. They have the power of the Belt and Road Initiative, the trade threats, and the manipulation of the United Nations as the second largest donor. China is becoming the strong arm of the world. While the Chinese government is conducting sterilization against Uyghur women and forcing Uyghur girls to marry Han Chinese men, who represents women's rights in the United Nations as a special envoy for women rights? It is Peng Liyuan, Xi Jinping's wife. Can you believe this? The United Nations was established because of atrocities during World War II to protect people from such crimes. Yet, everything they do is swaying into what Xi Jinping and the Chinese government want.
Mr. Jekielek: It definitely seems that many institutions in the United Nations are very tightly aligned with Chinese interests. Let's talk about how this transnational repression of your community manifests. How is the CCP targeting Uyghur Americans here?
Ms. Abbas: Every Uyghur in the diaspora, including all the Uyghurs in the United States, the Uyghur Americans who are American citizens, the people who are here legally, and students all have their family members back home. The Chinese government basically has their hands on every Uyghur's neck by holding their family members hostage. In some cases, the Chinese government makes the family members call their kids and ask them to stay away from political activities like the hearing this morning, a protest, or speaking out for some of their missing family members. Their parents will call them and say, "Do not get involved with anything. Think about us. If you want to see us alive, and if you want to see us outside instead of being in detention, please listen to us and don't do anything."
In some cases, the officials from the Chinese embassy and consulates call the Uyghur people in America. Even from back home, some police in different regions and cities call Uyghur people in the U.S. and warn them, "If you want to see your parents safe, don't speak out." People are scared, and people are worried.
That's why a few years ago when we had a hearing like this morning, we used to have a room full of Uyghur people with pictures of their missing family members. But as you saw today we only had one or two sitting in the room. They are afraid of coming because their family members are being held in detention. They are missing or they are dying. Some community members here say that their family members are dying just a couple weeks after being released, or they are dying in detention. Nobody is speaking out about this.
This is actually like my husband's case. About 20 days ago, in this 21st century information era, we heard from some distant relatives that his father passed away in January. My father-in-law passed away in January, but we just found this out seven months later. That was the only piece of information that my husband got since April 2017. The last time he communicated with his family was April 25th, 2017. This is just one example of how the Uyghur families living in the United States are being persecuted.
Mr. Jekielek: Internationally, there are also examples of people being forcibly repatriated. There have been people from various countries that have been forcibly repatriated back to China because they were inconvenient to the regime.
Ms. Abbas: Yes, absolutely. Almost every few months we hear that there are Uyghur people in detention somewhere. There are some in India right now and the Chinese government is trying to take them back. There's a gentleman from Turkey in Morocco right now, Idris Hasan. His case is being highlighted and the Chinese government is asking the Moroccan government to send him back.
There were actually more than a 100 Uyghurs sent back from Thailand. There were many young students sent back from Egypt in 2017. The Chinese police, along with the Egyptian police, actually went out into the streets together. They made an apartment to apartment manhunt and arrested those Uyghur students and sent them back to China. They all disappeared.
In Saudi Arabia, we also heard of a few Uyghurs facing deportation there. We don't know how many more there are in other parts of the world. The Chinese government's policy is not to just eradicate Uyghur people within East Turkestan or within China, but also they are trying to bring all the other Uyghurs back from other parts of the world, and then basically oppress them or persecute them.
A young girl from Japan, Mihray, was studying in Japan for her master's degree. She kept getting phone calls from her family members asking her to come back. She was told to think about her family and think about her parents. If she continued to study in Japan, they would face repercussions. So, she went back.
When she went back, she was taken directly to the camps. A few months later we heard this young girl had died in the camp in detention. This is just one example of many. We know a few actually went back while studying in the United States. A famous scholar, Dr. Rahile Dawut, studied at Indiana University, and she's now missing.
There was also a graduate student from Northwestern University who went back with his wife and two kids. He was detained in the concentration camp and faced all kinds of torture and hardship. He was released half dead basically, and died a few days later. Waris Ababekri, one of our colleagues from University Times and one of the leaders of the protests during 1985 through 1988 was in detention. Then he died two weeks after being released. There are many stories like that.
As you mentioned earlier, genocide is not an event or one incident. Genocide is a progression, and there are 10 stages of genocide. If you look at what's happening to Uyghur people and the Falun Gong practitioners, they label them as the “other group.” Then they start to demonize and stigmatize their culture and their ethnicity. Step by step, they give out disinformation and false propaganda and they create hatred among the populace.
The Uyghurs are being labeled as uncivilized people, backward, and criminal, because all the normal aspects of religion are being criminalized. The government is using disinformation and propaganda against the Uyghur people, but not just that. As part of the transnational repression here in the United States, I am being attacked day and night on social media and on their traditional media.
The Global Times Network actually did an article after I doubled down on my efforts. I carried my sister's photo, protesting in front of the Chinese embassy, at the United Nations, and at the European Parliament. The CCP said that I stole another person's photo and falsely claimed this was my missing relative. They said I was spreading lies about China. A few months later, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson spelled out my sister's name and said that they had charged her. Which one is it? Am I a liar or is my sister a criminal?
Basically it's the same playbook against all the marginalized groups. They did it to Falun Gong practitioners, the Tibetans, the Uyghur people and the Hong Kongers in front of the entire world. What happened to Hong Kong? That entire region lost its freedom and democracy. All of a sudden, Hong Kong became a part of this dictatorship.
Their people who were born and raised in freedom, and now they are under the totalitarian system like everyone else in China. This is what happens if you don't take action against genocide and crimes against humanity. There is no neutrality when it comes to genocide and crimes against humanity.
If you don't take a side today, and if you don't take an action to stop China or hold China accountable, then just look at the Uyghur people today. Then you can imagine how the future of the world is going to be. Everything the Uyghur people are facing today will be the reality of the entire world. If we don't speak out now, then the only voice left to speak will be one of regret.
Mr. Jekielek: Giving the technology, giving the goodwill, and turning a blind eye to the problems was because if we offered the tools of prosperity to China, then they would become more like us. They would become more of a free and open society. Increasingly, people have been saying that it went the other way. We actually became more like them.
Ms. Abbas: Yes, and I have experienced that. Sometimes I wonder where I am living. Am I in China or in the United States? I arrived at Columbia University to participate in one of the panels with Tibetan and Hong Kong activists, as well as one of the Chinese dissidents from the Tiananmen Square protests. After I got there, the university canceled our panel because apparently the Chinese student association at the university protested. They canceled our event. I felt like I was in Beijing at Tsinghua University or Beijing University.
Also I see certain tons of humans here being exported from Xinjiang, we call East Turkestan, coming to the United States. The customs and border patrol sees those certain tons of humans here. Imagine Jan, how many people does that represent? When something like this happens, it should be breaking news all over the major media. Every reporter should cover this. Every evening news should have this as breaking news. No, we don't see it anywhere.
Again, little by little, inch by inch, we are giving in. We are becoming like this authoritarian regime. The Chinese government makes their five year plan to reach their 100-year plan and they stick to it. They're on target. They stick to their plans and they keep working towards that. What about us? We don't even have a clear China policy.
We have all these dreams of engaging with China and appeasing the Chinese government. We say that we don't want to have a cold war with China. Actually, China is already at war with us, and it's not our choice. They are deciding it. They are having a war against us. They are having a war against freedom and democracy. We don't realize what the Chinese government is planning on doing.
They say the last century was a century of humiliation for the Chinese people and this century is China's century of retaliation. What does that mean? It's not retaliation against the Uyghurs or Tibetans or Hong Kongers or Falun Gong practitioners or southern Mongolians. It's retaliation against the West, and retaliation against democracy. When are we going to wake up and see this reality?
Mr. Jekielek: Over the last few years there has been a significant shift in how people understand the Chinese regime. I don't have a very deep respect for our mainstream media and how they cover many issues. Strangely, on the China issue, the reporting is unusually honest compared to what we've seen over the last 20 years. You can tell me if you agree or not, but I see that as positive. I also agree with you that it's also far from ideal. What are your thoughts about that?
Ms. Abbas: They covered a lot, but not enough. Radio Free Asia is continuously doing an amazing job breaking many of the cases that I mentioned earlier, with the crematoriums and the organ harvesting and many of the deaths. But the mainstream media is not paying attention. Even if they cover a big event or big breaking news, they always add the CCP's talking points as a footnote.
Mr. Jekielek: Right, that's true.
Ms. Abbas: Why? Why are you repeating what the CCP is saying? It's so frustrating. I will read the article, then toward the end I get frustrated and I just yell and scream. It's so frustrating to see how some of the journalists work. But I don't want to discredit many of the amazing journalists. They are actually covering a lot of the incidents happening to the Uyghur people, so thanks to many of the great journalists.
But with the mainstream media and especially the evening news covering the CCP's crimes, it's always up and down. It's extremely difficult to have consistency on covering the ongoing genocide or what's happening to different marginalized groups. The Chinese government's actions should be the biggest story, not just the Uyghurs or people within their borders, but what they are doing to the United States, like the balloon incident for example.
Mr. Jekielek: The balloon did get some headlines.
Ms. Abbas: It did, and then it disappeared again. There are some follow ups and some investigations, but then why are we not hearing about it anymore? Why are the American people not hearing about it? There was a warehouse in Fresno, California with about a thousand infected mice being kept with all kinds of viruses. They were biological weapons basically, and it was run by a Chinese company. Clearly, they were doing something there with all kinds of coronavirus and other viruses.
Mr. Jekielek: It was totally off the books.
Ms. Abbas: What's interesting is that it got reported a little bit here and there. At first they mentioned Chinese ownership. Then later they dropped that and said, "The Fresno police discovered this warehouse that kept these infected mice." But then you don't see who the owner was and who was behind it. The Chinese government is using this very effectively to bring everything back to the Asian hate, or this is hurting the Chinese people's feelings. No. We are talking about the Chinese regime. We are talking about the Chinese Communist Party, not the Chinese people. We all have great Chinese friends.
That's the playbook of the Chinese government, turning everything to their benefit by saying that it's criticizing the Chinese people and making things bad for the Chinese people. No. The Chinese people did not elect Xi Jinping. The Chinese people have no voice in what kind of regime they want to have. The Chinese people are also the victims of the Chinese communist regime's brutality.
The ordinary Chinese people are with us, and we saw that in the November Urumqi fires. They protested standing in Urumqi Street in Shanghai. The Chinese people in China actually showed their solidarity with the Uyghur people. It is actually the Chinese people who are also the victims of China's propaganda.
Mr. Jekielek: The level of propaganda within China is so huge, and many people are brainwashed this way to some extent. Despite that, there are still people that will see through it and do it publicly, even knowing that they will invoke the wrath of the state. I see hope in that.
Ms. Abbas: Yes, absolutely. Sometimes we receive messages through our social media on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook. People are reaching out to us. Chinese people are using their VPN to reach out to us. I received a letter from an underground Christian Church in China. They sent me a note and said that they were so sorry for what their government was doing to our people and what they did to my sister.
Mr. Jekielek: What do you think is the path forward for the U.S., especially given the reality of transnational repression?
Ms. Abbas: The U.S. needs to have legislation to protect Uyghur American rights. We need to have legislation from the lawmakers to address the social media that's being used by the CCP's trolls. Social media is not open to the ordinary Chinese people, but their trolls and their officials use it to harass us and they spread libel and attacks against the activists.
When we report that to law enforcement, they cannot do much because of freedom of speech. When the CCP is threatening, harassing, blackmailing, intimidating, spreading libel, and saying if you don't stop speaking out against the CCP, we will destroy you, that is not freedom of speech. We need to have some sort of instrument to protect the Uyghur people living within the U.S.
Mr. Jekielek: Rushan, let me jump in here. Just a few days ago, based on the Fifth Circuit Court decision, we know for a fact that there are structures in the U.S. government that have been censoring Americans in violation of the First Amendment, under the pretext of countering foreign disinformation. This is unimaginable.
But at the same time, I'm aware that what you just described is happening. These foreign disinformation operations, courtesy of China, are the real thing. That is being almost used as an excuse to curtail the First Amendment rights of Americans. It's very hard to figure out how to deal with this. I agree with you that some sort of instrument is needed, but when the ability to censor gets pulled in, it can be abused in the wrong direction.
Ms. Abbas: True, there is a fine line. But we need to differentiate why this certain person is coming out of the blue. This person doesn't know me personally, and has nothing to do with what I'm doing. Why is he out there constantly attacking, demonizing me, and trying to discredit my work? He says, “Stop what you are doing.”
People like that should get the attention of the FBI, and they should investigate him. Why is this person doing this, and what's in it for him? Maybe the Chinese government has his family members held hostage and they are making him do that. But how do you prove that?
Yes, it is important to have First Amendment rights and that is our freedom. At the same time, the Chinese government is using democracy to destroy democracy, using it to infiltrate, and using it to suppress American citizens. Somebody needs to do their jobs and protect us.
Mr. Jekielek: This is one of the foundational issues of our time. The CCP excels at these mass operations. They can push out the same message across a billion accounts. But that can be detected and that can be stopped. What if someone just believes their propaganda and they share it? Maybe they've been brainwashed into that.
Ms. Abbas: That's true too. To finish on a positive note, I take all these attacks as proof that I'm getting under the CCP's skin. Whenever I speak out on some platforms or whenever I do something impactful, I see these massive attacks. That’s when I feel like I'm doing the right thing. I believe in that famous saying, the arc bends toward justice.
Maybe we are taking baby steps, but we are making huge differences here. Five years ago, when China was continuously implementing an active genocide against Uyghurs, the world community did not know who Xi Jinping was, and how the Chinese government operated. But today, everybody out there understands Xi Jinping is a dictator, and China is a genocidal regime. They can believe it or not, and they can agree with it or not, but at least they now know something about it.
We are making a difference. From the Uyghurs activists, the former camp victims, the great politicians, and the journalists like yourself, we are making a difference, and we will continue to fight. I left my homeland in 1989, and left my parents and my friends. I came to the United States because I was looking for freedom and democracy. Today, that is at stake, and I will not stop fighting. I will protect that freedom and democracy and fight against the CCP.
Mr. Jekielek: Rushan, the accomplishments that you just mentioned are because of your hard work, and I need to mention that before we finish. It’s such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Ms. Abbas: Thank you, Jan.
Mr. Jekielek: Thank you all for joining Rushan Abbas and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I'm your host, Jan Jekielek.
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