Women imprisoned in China’s network of internment camps in Xinjiang are subject to horrific torture, systematic rape, and sexual abuse as the country’s Communist leadership seeks to “destroy” those it sees as a threat, a graphic new report has revealed.
A report from the BBC highlights interviews from several former detainees and a guard who shared firsthand accounts of their horrific experiences in China’s internment camps in the Xinjiang region. Estimates suggest that over 1 million to as many as 3 million Uyghur Muslims and other minority groups in Western China have been subject to these internment camps, which are intended to strip Uyghurs and other minorities “of their culture, language and religion, and indoctrinate them into mainstream Chinese culture.”
Tursunay Ziawudun, a woman who spent nine months inside one of these camps before fleeing to the U.S., told the BBC that women were removed from the cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. She said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men. She also recalled how police tortured her with electric shocks and, in one instance, violently abused her when she was unsure of her husband’s whereabouts, kicking her with their heavy boots. Because of the severity of the abuse, rape, and torture, Ziawudun said that there were “many people in those cells who lost their minds.”
“Their goal is to destroy everyone,” she said. “And everybody knows it.”
Gulzira Auelkhan, a Kazakh woman from Xinjiang who was detained for 18 months in the camp system, recounted how she was forced to strip Uyghur women naked and handcuff them before leaving them alone with Chinese men.
“My job was to remove their clothes above the waist and handcuff them so they cannot move,” she recalled. “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.”
The Chinese men “would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates,” she said, stressing that the physical violence she witnessed amounted to “rape.”
Qelbinur Sedik, an Uzbek woman from Xinjiang, who was forced to give language lessons to the detainees, said the women’s camp was “tightly controlled.” She said there were “four kinds of electric shock” women would be subjected to — “the chair, the glove, the helmet, and anal rape with a stick.”
“The screams echoed throughout the building,” she told the BBC. “I could hear them during lunch and sometimes when I was in class.”
Sedik said that one time, she asked a Chinese camp policewoman about the rumors of rape. The women replied, “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.”
Interviewees also shared how they were required to watch propaganda videos praising Chinese President Xi Jinping and sing patriotic songs. They were also forced to undergo medical tests, take pills, and were forcibly injected every 15 days with a “vaccine” that brought on nausea and numbness. Women were also forcibly injected with IUDs or sterilized.
One former prison guard shared how women were forced to memorize books about Xi Jinping. Those who failed to complete the task were punished with food deprivation and beatings.
“I entered those camps. I took detainees into those camps,” he said. “I saw those sick, miserable people. They definitely experienced various types of torture. I am sure about that.”
China has repeatedly denied that it is persecuting ethnic groups in Xinjiang; however, reports reveal it is actually expanding its network of detention facilities.
An earlier report documented how hospitals in Xinjiang were ordered to abort and kill all babies born in excess of China’s mandated family planning limits — including newborns born after being carried to full term. The orders were part of strict family-planning policies intended to restrict Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities to three children.
In January, the former Trump administration officially designated China’s persecution of minorities in western Xinjiang Province as “genocide” and “crimes against humanity.”
“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time, adding that the Chinese Communist Party — which he described as a “Marxist-Leninist regime that exerts power over the long-suffering Chinese people through brainwashing and brute force” — is “engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group.”
The Biden administration has not stated whether it would maintain the previous administration’s declaration that China is committing genocide against its Uyghur population. White House Press Secretary Psaki told reporters at a press briefing that Biden has “spoken before to the horrific treatment” of Uyghurs, but she will “check” what the Biden administration’s policy will be, RCP previously reported. However, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that he believes genocide had been committed against the Uyghurs.
Christian leaders have urged Christians in the West to care about the persecution of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities. In September, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said that the crimes being perpetrated against religious minorities in China and elsewhere rely on invisibility “where the rest of the world doesn’t pay attention” and “tribalism.”
“The way of Jesus Christ says that we pay attention to our neighbor on the side of the road who is persecuted, who is being beaten,” he said. “So let’s pray for the Uyghur [and] for other persecuted peoples. Let’s pray not just individually, but together, and pray for them by name.”
“Let’s be the people who stand up for whoever is being made invisible, whoever is being intimidated and bullied in our own neighborhoods and in our own communities because we’re the people of Jesus Christ.”