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The horrific conditions in Chinese concentration camps are disturbing. However, a new BBC report details that the lives of the Uyghur detainees, especially the women who are enslaved, are actually worse than imagined. The world now knows from the testimony of one of them that China not only gets rich from forced labor, but from the mass rape of its detainees.
One of the victims, Tursunay Ziawudun, lived in one of China’s concentration camps in the Xinjiang region for nine months, according to the BBC. Ziawudun is just one of a million or so female detainees, and she has had the opportunity to tell of the appalling treatment in these regime institutions.
The secrecy about what goes on in these concentration camps is of the highest order, but the experience, similar to that of North Korea where those who successfully escape tell of the horrors, has reached the mainstream media through Ziawudun’s voice.
Ziawudun recounts that the first stage of her detention was easier, with decent food and access to her phone, according to the report. However, after a month, she developed a stomach ulcer and was released.
After her release, her husband, who is Kazakh and had not been sent to the camp with her, was able to return to Kazakhstan to work. The authorities, however, kept Ziawudun’s passport and left her stranded in Xinjiang.
The BBC reports that later, on March 9, 2018, Ziawudun was told to report to a local police station because she needed “more education.”
Arriving at the same facility she had left some time ago, Ziawudun immediately noticed that something had changed, with buses unloading new detainees “non-stop.” Jewelry was confiscated and the women had to hand over all their belongings, the report reveals.
Between constant propaganda and indoctrination, two months passed like the blink of an eye. But unlike the last time, the police began asking Ziawudun about her husband. When she did not respond, the report reveals, the police would throw her to the ground and kick her in the abdomen.
“Police boots are very hard and heavy,” the woman recounts, “so at first I thought he was hitting me with something.” “Then I realized he was stomping on my belly,” she confessed. “I almost fainted, I felt as if suffocating,” she told the BBC.
A camp doctor thought she might have a blood clot while her female cellmates reported to guards that she was bleeding. All concerns, however, were dismissed by the guards, according to the report.
Chinese concentration camps are filled with rapes and forced abortions
Ziawudun revealed that women are taken from their cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men in suits, according to the report. On three separate occasions Ziawudun herself was gang raped by two or three men and was also tortured, the BBC reported.
There was one occasion in May 2018 when Ziawudun and a female cellmate were taken from their cell during the night and introduced to a man wearing a mask. The woman recalls that they were separated and her companion was taken to another room. “As soon as she came in, she started screaming. I don’t know how to explain it, I thought they were torturing her. I never thought of them raping her,” she says.
The woman who had brought Ziawudun and her cellmate in told one of the men about Ziawudun’s bleeding. An officer ordered the lady to take Ziawudun to the “dark room.”
“The woman took me to the next room to where they had taken the other girl.” “They had an electric stick, I didn’t know what it was.” Without Ziawudun expecting it, they stuck it in her vagina and the torture began with electric shocks. The torture only ended when the woman who had originally taken her there reported Ziawudun’s condition. It was an hour later when her companion returned.
Ziawudun tells that the woman changed completely after that: “she didn’t talk to anyone, she sat in silence and looked as if she was in a trance. There were many people in those cells who lost their minds.”
A Chinese teacher, Qelbinur Sedik, was taken to the concentration camps and forced to give language lessons to the detainees. He has since fled China to share his experience. Sedik told the BBC that the women’s camp was “strictly controlled,” but there were obvious signs of rape.
Sedik needed to confirm what she already knew, so she asked one of the female police officers at a Chinese camp if she knew anything about rape. The policewoman confirmed: “Yes, rape has become a culture. It’s gang rape and the Chinese police not only rape them, but also electrocute them. They are being subjected to horrible torture.”
In testimony for the Uyghur Human Rights Project, Sedik told of the practice of sticking an electric stick inside women as a form of torture, as described by Ziawudun, according to the BBC.
The professor describes that the electric tortures they apply to women are four: the chair, the glove, the helmet and anal rape with a stick. He further comments on how the screams are heard throughout the facility. “The screams echoed throughout the building. I could hear them during lunch and sometimes when I was in class.”
One of the most dismal points in Ziawudun’s testimony is that women who leave their cells often do not return.
An investigation found that China forces Uyghurs to undergo forced abortions, birth control, and forced labor. Companies such as Coca-Cola and Nike profit from the forced labor Uyghur Muslims are subjected to in China’s concentration camps, according to the AP.
Rafael Valera, Venezuelan, student of Political Science, political exile in São Paulo, Brazil since 2017 // Rafael Valera, venezolano, es estudiante de Ciencias Políticas y exiliado político en São Paulo, Brasil desde 2017