At the UN in October 23 nations condemned Beijing’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Sadly 54 others backed a response praising Beijing’s “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights.” Let’s look at those.
Tursunay Ziyawudun, a 41-year-old Uyghur living in Kazakhstan, visited Xinjiang in late 2016 and was trapped by the mass confiscation of passports. She was first interned for a month in 2017, but could not leave China on her release.
In March 2018 she was again detained. This time she was repeatedly tortured. ‘The screaming, pleading, crying, is still in my head.” Most of the women she met had undergone forced sterilisation. She was also taken to be sterilised, but the doctor refused to do it because of other health issues, ‘so they spared me,” she said. Those sterilised ceased to menstruate, suggesting enforced insertion of intrauterine devices. But that wasn’t all. When asked about reports of rape she broke down. “We were unable to defend ourselves,” she said.
Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, has published testimony of Sayragul Sauytbay, a teacher detained in November 2017. She details what Ziyawudun could not say.
She says women were raped every night. “One day, the police took 200 inmates outside, and ordered one to confess her sins. When she was done the policemen ordered her to disrobe and they raped her one after the other, in front of everyone. While they were raping her they checked to see how we were reacting. People who turned their head or closed their eyes were taken away and we never saw them again. I will never forget the feeling of helplessness.”
Sauytbay says there was a ‘black room’ for torture. “Some prisoners were hung on the wall and beaten with electrified truncheons. Some were made to sit on a chair of nails. I saw people return covered in blood or without fingernails.” The purpose was punishment, for any perceived transgression. One old woman accused of speaking with someone from abroad by phone was punished for denying it. “I saw her when she returned. She was covered with blood, she had no fingernails.”
In March 2018 Sauytbay was released and fled across the border to Kazakhstan. She was detained for illegal entry, her requests for asylum refused, but as China attempted extradition relatives contacted the media, and she was granted asylum in Sweden.
Her account is supported by others. Ruqiye Perhat, 30, an Uyghur now in Turkey, told the Washington Post she was raped multiple times by guards and became pregnant twice, having two forced abortions. “Any woman or man under age 35 was raped and sexually abused.”
Haaretz accuses China of rape, torture and human experiments in the camps, drawing comparison to the chilling similarity of all this camps the West has seen before. They should know.
The Chinese Embassy in Sweden, clearly rattled, claim Sauytbay left China illegally and accuse her of “total lies and malicious smear attacks.” That explains its 54 UN defenders then. Good to know all is well.