According to new accounts obtained by the BBC, “women in China’s ‘re-education’ camps for Uighurs have been systematically raped, sexually abused, and tortured.”
For years, the Chinese Communist Party’s apparent persecution of Uighurs and other minorities in China’s Xinjiang region has come under scrutiny. The Uighurs are a mostly Muslim Turkic minority group, and it is believed that the Chinese regime has detained around one million people without trial, many of them housed in concentration camps. In addition, human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of stripping away “the religious and other freedoms of the Uighurs, culminating in an oppressive system of mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination, and even forced sterilization.”
In the accounts reported by the BBC, further details of the experiences of those within these so-called “re-education” internment camps have been described.
Tursunay Ziawudun, who is now in the United States after fleeing Xinjiang, “said women were removed from the cells ‘every night’ and raped by one or more masked Chinese men,” and that “she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.” They wore masks, even though the COVID-19 pandemic had not yet occurred, and they wore suits instead of police uniforms, according to Ziawudun, who spent nine months inside one of these camps.
The BBC also spoke with Gulzira Auelkhan, who was “detained for 18 months in the camp system.” She told the BBC that “she was forced to strip Uighur women naked and handcuff them, before leaving them alone with Chinese men,” and that afterwards she was required to clean the rooms.
“My job was to remove their clothes above the waist and handcuff them so they cannot move,” she said, demonstrating with her wrists. “Then I would leave the women in the room and a man would enter — some Chinese man from outside or policeman. I sat silently next to the door, and when the man left the room I took the woman for a shower.”
She continued to say that the Chinese men “would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates.”
The shocking report continues, with Qelbinur Sedik — an Uzbek woman who was brought into the internment camps and “coerced into giving [Chinese language] lessons to the detainees” describing the camp as “tightly controlled.” When asked about whether there was a system of rape, Sedik responded, “Yes, the rape has become a culture. It is gang rape and the Chinese police not only rape them but also electrocute them. They are subject to horrific torture.”
The BBC also reported that “In separate testimony to the Uyghur Human Rights Project, Sedik said she heard about an electrified stick being inserted into women to torture them.”
Sedik described “four kinds of electric shock: the chair, the glove, the helmet, and anal rape with a stick.”
“The screams echoed throughout the building,” she said. “I could hear them during lunch and sometimes when I was in class.”
Another teacher named Sayragul Sauytbay said that “rape was common,” that the guards “picked the girls and young women they wanted and took them away,” and described “witnessing a harrowing public gang rape of a woman” who was “brought before about 100 other detainees to make a forced confession.”
“After that, in front of everyone, the police took turns to rape her,” Sauytbay said.
While it is not possible to independently verify this form of testimony given China’s strict control and censorship, this harrowing account provides what could be yet another window into the horrifying truth of the reality beneath the Chinese Communist Party.
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