The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
Print Issues

Rushan Abbas Speaks About Uyghur Genocide at Hinckley Institute

The Campaign for Uyghurs founder spoke about the Chinese government’s ongoing oppression of the Uyghur people in her homeland of East Turkistan.
Marco Lozzi
Rushan Abbas speaks at the forum held in the Hinckley Institute of Politics on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Rushan Abbas, founder of the organization Campaign for Uyghurs, spoke at the Hinckley Institute of Politics on Wednesday, informing visitors of the current political landscape in her homeland of East Turkistan.

Campaign for Uyghurs

Under the Chinese regime, Uyghur people are under constant surveillance and being placed into concentration camps. Abbas created the campaign to spread awareness of ongoing genocide and encourage the world to speak up and condemn Chinese actions against the Uyghur people.

Campaign for Uyghurs started in 2017 in response to one million Uyghur people being imprisoned in concentration camps. According to their website, they aim to “create a world where every person feels the responsibility to counter genocide.”

They do this through three core programs: advocacy training for Uyghur women and youth, supporting key legislation and grassroots activism. The organization was nominated for a Nobel Prize in 2022.

The Hinckley Forum

The Hinckley forum consisted of a screening of the short documentary film, “The Grave is Wide,” directed by Adam Smith, a speech by Abbas and a moderated discussion with Professor Erika George of the S.J. Quinney College of Law.

Abbas began her speech by saying “the foundation of liberty is under attack,” as the Chinese regime seeks to destroy the Uyghur culture. She described the living conditions of the Uyghur people who are under constant surveillance in public and at home, using face recognition and emotion detection. She added Uyghur women are abused and forced into marriage, and the people are slaves for the production of Chinese products.

“Your clothes, car, and other products are made with the blood, sweat, and tears of the Uyghur slaves,” Abbas said. 

Abbas’ advocacy does not come without a price. She said after she gave a speech in 2018, her sister was taken prisoner in a concentration camp in East Turkistan. Abbas added she has 24 family members who have been imprisoned, and only weeks ago she found out her father-in-law had died in captivity in January. They had had no contact since his capture.

Rushan Abbas holds up a photo of her sister during the Hinckley forum held in the Hinckley Institute of Politics on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle) (Marco Lozzi)

Abbas compared the severity of what is happening to the Uyghur people to the Holocaust.

“Humanity is being tested again and we are failing,” she said. “Will we have the courage to end on the right end of history?”

Abbas ended her speech advocating for international action by saying, “It’s about the future of the entire world, and the future of democracy.”

During the moderated discussion, George asked Abbas about the importance of using the word “genocide.” Abbas replied it is important to call it what it is — the erasure of peoples and their culture.

“The issue needs to be recognized as a crime,” Abbas said. 

George also asked about the potential long-term consequences of this crisis. Abbas said it affects the entire world.

“If the Chinese regime can get away with eradicating 20 million people, what will this teach other regimes?” she said.

Campaign for Uyghurs calls the world to action by supporting H.B. 4840, Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure, a bill requiring publicly traded companies to review and disclose all information about any links their products may have to Uyghur forced labor.

Additionally, they encourage the public to sign petitions and to ask companies such as AirBnB, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble to end their partnership with the upcoming Beijing Olympics and boycott broadcasts of the games.

Abbas concluded the forum by referencing the Holocaust again.

“After the Holocaust we said, ‘never again,’” she said. “Will we follow this?”


[email protected]


View Comments (1)
About the Contributors
Libbey Hanson, News Writer
(she/her) Libbey is a second-year graduate student in the MPA program studying public policy and administration. She is most interested in environmental policy and social justice issues. You can usually find her in the mountains hiking and skiing or reading and writing at a local coffee shop.
Marco Lozzi, Photographer
Born in Texas and raised by Italian parents, Marco Lozzi grew up with two vastly different cultures. Now a sophomore at the U, he is majoring in communication with a journalism emphasis while also minoring in photography and Italian. He joined the Chrony to gain experience working as a photojournalist for a larger entity. When he's not taking or editing photos, he can be found hitting the slopes, napping, or making pasta.

Comments (1)

We welcome feedback and dialogue from our community. However, when necessary, The Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to remove user comments. Posts may be removed for any of the following reasons: • Comments on a post that do not relate to the subject matter of the story • The use of obscene, threatening, defamatory, or harassing language • Comments advocating illegal activity • Posts violating copyrights or trademarks • Advertisement or promotion of commercial products, services, entities, or individuals • Duplicative comments by the same user. In the case of identical comments only the first submission will be posted. Users who habitually post comments or content that must be removed can be blocked from the comment section.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • J

    JanetSep 21, 2023 at 8:44 pm

    I’ve been educated thanks to this informative article.
    Thanks Libbey