Harrowing accounts of rape, sexual abuse, and torture at China’s “re-education” camps

BBC News reported harrowing accounts from Uighur camp detainees in China. The Uighurs are a Muslim Turkic minority that lives in Xinjiang in north-western China. The region borders Kazakhstan and is also home to ethnic Kazakhs.


BBC interviewed Tursunay Ziawudun, 42, who had spent nine months inside China’s “re-education” camp and later fled to the US after her release. She narrated the horrors of her detention where she was sexually abused, raped and tortured along with several other Uighur women who are still detained in those camps.


According to Ziawudun, 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.

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She recalled when she first saw women being taken out of the cell at night, she didn’t understand why. She thought they were being moved elsewhere. Until one night when her cellmate and herself were taken out and presented to a Chinese man in a mask. Her cellmate was taken into a separate room from where she could hear her screaming. Even then she never suspected about them raping. Later, Ziawudun too was taken to the same darkroom. She said, “They had an electric stick, I didn’t know what it was, and it was pushed inside my genital tract, torturing me with an electric shock.”


According to Ziawudun’s account, the perpetrators were no less than animals. She said, “They didn’t spare any part of the body, they bit everywhere leaving horrible marks. It was disgusting to look at.”

I’ve experienced that three times. And it is not just one person who torments you, not just one predator. Each time they were two or three men.”

The BBC also interviewed a Kazakh woman Gulzira Auelkhan from Xinjiang who was detained for 18 months in the camp. She said she was forced to strip Uighur women naked and handcuff them, before leaving them alone with Chinese men. Afterwards, she cleaned the rooms.


The Chinese men “would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates“, she further added.


Some former detainees of the camps have narrated similar accounts of being forced to assist guards or face punishment.

Asked if there was a system of organised rape, Auelkhan said: “Yes, rape.”

Qelbinur Sedik, an Uzbek woman from Xinjiang, was among the Chinese language teachers who were asked to give lessons to the detainees. Sedik has since fled China and spoken publicly about her experience.


Sedik has testified to the Uyghur Human Rights Project, where she had stated instances of an electrified stick being inserted into women to torture them.


Sayragul Sauytbay, another teacher at the camp told the BBC that “rape was common” and the guards “picked the girls and young women they wanted and took them away”.


She recalled seeing a gang rape of a young 20 or 21-year-old woman. “The police took turns to rape her,” Sauytbay said.

The gut-wrenching atrocities committed against women in these “re-education” camps of China are inhuman, to say the least. They are paying the price for what? Why there’s deafening silence? Why people are not speaking up?


Read the full coverage by BBC News here.



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