Uyghur advocates speak out after horrifying accounts of rape and torture in Xinjiang camps in China

Uyghur advocates speak out after horrifying accounts of rape and torture in Xinjiang camps in China

Stephen Dziedzic – ABC – Thursday 04 February 2021

Uyghur advocacy groups have renewed calls for the international community to take action after the BBC published horrifying new accounts of rape and torture in China’s network of internment camps in Xinjiang.

WARNING: Some people may find the contents in this article distressing.

The BBC spoke to several women who said they had been subjected to systematic sexual violence, torture and rape from guards in the camp.

The broadcaster also said it spoke to a former guard who confirmed he had seen prisoners subjected to beatings, as well as being tortured with electric shocks.

Many of the accounts were extremely graphic.

One woman told the BBC that she was tortured and gang-raped on three occasions by Chinese men.

Another said she was forced to strip Uyghur women naked and handcuff them before they were raped by guards.

A third said some women had been tortured by guards who raped them with electrified sticks.

Nurgul Sawut from the group Campaign for Uyghurs said it would have been extremely difficult for the women to recount their experiences.

“But we have many Uyghur sisters [who] put aside their pride and spoke out.”

Ms Sawut said the BBC report was further evidence of mass human rights abuses in the network of camps.

“Chinese policemen and camp staff and their methods of conducting sexual abuse and torture towards Uyghur women are the same and consistent,” she said.

Evidence ‘leaves no room for doubt’

The accusations drew a horrified response from several Australian Government MPs, including parliamentarians who are part of the Inter Parliamentary Alliance on China.

Labor Senator Kimberly Kitching said the BBC report “documents some of the most horrific and unspeakable human rights abuses we’ve seen in recent memory.”

“The weight of the evidence steadily coming out of the Xinjiang region leaves no room for doubt as to the oppression Uyghur and other ethnic minorities are living under,” she said.

Liberal Senator James Paterson said the program had brought the Chinese Communist Party “into further disrepute” and would “rightly horrify the world.”

China has repeatedly denied that it is persecuting ethnic groups in Xinjiang, although recent research suggests it has been expanding its network of detention facilities for Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

The Chinese embassy in Canberra responded by excoriating one of the researchers who provided material to the BBC, Adrian Zenz, accusing him of “spreading rumours to slander and even demonise China.”

“[Zenz] is keen to concoct rumours about Xinjiang and slander China, and his relevant reports and remarks have long been proved to be falsehoods,” the embassy said.

“His reports don’t have the slightest of credibility and academic integrity.”

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