Uyghur women in Chinese camps in the western province of Xinjiang are systematically victims of rape, other sexual abuse and torture. Thats what the BBC writes on the basis of testimonies.
The British broadcaster spoke, among others, with Tursunay Ziawudun, a Uyghur woman who was in a reeducation camp, as the Chinese authorities invariably describe the camps. Ziawudun now lives in the United States and dares to tell her full story for the first time.
The woman says that sometimes after midnight they came to the cells to pick out women, then take them to a dark room where there were no surveillance cameras. Masked men in uniforms, no police uniforms, raped the women there, says Ziawudun.
She spoke earlier about her experiences, then from Kazakhstan. But there she was still living with the fear that she would be sent back to China. She said she was afraid that if she did her whole story, she would be punished extra hard once back in China. She was also ashamed to talk about it.
The BBC says that the testimonies are difficult to verify because journalists in China do not have complete freedom of movement. Getting to speak to an Uyghur at all is difficult; they often do not dare to talk because the oppression is so heavy.
The broadcaster therefore looked at documents, the descriptions given by the woman and other testimonies, after which the conclusion was drawn that her story had to be true.
Another testimony is from a woman who spent 18 months in a camp. Gulzira Auelkhan says she had to prepare Uighur women for rape. She had to undress them and cuff them to leave them alone with men. The cuffs had to be so tight that the women couldnt move. The Chinese men paid for the most beautiful, youngest inmates, says Auelkhan.
According to Ziawudun, some women who were taken to the dark rooms never returned. Whoever did return was not allowed to say anything to the other women. “Its meant to mentally destroy everyone.”
She also described the cells: there were fourteen women in a cell, there were bunk beds and there were bars on the windows. A hole in the floor served as a toilet.
Forced abortions and sterilizations
The story of women confirms previous stories of inhuman conditions in the camps, where, according to estimates, more than one million Uyghurs, Kazachen and other Islamic minorities are held. Previously, there have been reports that women undergo forced abortions and sterilization in order to inhibit population growth.
The Chinese government insists that the people in the camps are being re-educated. Party leader Xi Jinping sees the camps as a success. Last year, he argued that there had been no terrorist attacks in the region for almost four years.
Correspondent Sjoerd den Daas was in the region last year and made, as good and as angry as that went, a report of: