Chinese Muslim women have spoken out about the abuse they endured in China’s “concentration camps”. Their stories speak of a repugnant world of rape, forced abortions and sterilisations, and being made to rub chillis into their private parts. These fresh allegations come after international criticism over the communist country’s persecution of its Muslim minority, which includes Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other ethnic groups.
Forced Abortions And Sexual Assault
Gulzira Mogdyn, a 38-year-old Kazakh and Chinese citizen, told the Washington Post how she was detained in Xinjiang in 2017 after a visit to Kazakhstan because WhatsApp was found on her phone. After being placed under house arrest, she was examined by doctors at a nearby clinic, who discovered that she was 10 weeks pregnant. Reprimanded, she was told that she was not permitted to have the child – which would have been her fourth. Mogdyn said that a month later, doctors “cut my foetus out” without the use of any anaesthesia. Today, she still suffers from complications from the botched procedure.
“Two humans were lost in this tragedy – my baby and me,” Mogdyn said during an interview on the outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan where she now resides. She is also pressing the Chinese authorities for a response – either in the way of financial compensation or, at the very least, an apology.
Another woman, Ruqiye Perhat, who was detained for almost four years, said that she was repeatedly raped by Han Chinese guards, resulting in two pregnancies, which she was forced to abort. “Any woman or man under age 35 was raped and sexually abused,” she disclosed.
Other former female detainees spoke about how guards would “come in and put bags on the heads of the ones they wanted” at night — only for the women to be returned the next morning or not at all — after being raped. Many also revealed how they were made to shower in groups and forced to rub chillis into their genitals, which “burned like fire.”
An open letter surfaced in May 2019 by a man claiming to be a prison guard at a concentration camp in Dawanching, corroborating some of the women’s allegations.
He wrote, “Sometimes officers would visit our monitoring room to “inspect” our work. In fact, they are choosing “girls”. They would ask us to zoom the camera in on girls’ faces, and even would half-jokingly ask me to choose the most beautiful one for him, which I euphemistically rejected at the time. After selecting the girl, they would let the subordinate staff to bring the girl to the “office” for a “talk”. The “office” is actually the employee’s kitchen. Because there is no camera there, and the “talk” generally is during the daytime, not at night, everyone knows what will happen to the girls. There are two tables in the kitchen, one table is for snacks and liquors, and the other one is for “doing things”. Most of the time, the officer would rape the selected girl alone. Sometimes, if he is high, he would let subordinates gang rape the girls after him. After they are done, the girl would be returned back to the cell. The girl wouldn’t say anything, but I could see her tears from the camera. In the cells, they are not allowed to cry, not allowed to express their emotions, and not allowed to talk.”
More Prisoners Being Detained
Last week, a drone video surfaced which showed hundreds of men with shaved heads, blindfolded and their hands tied behind their backs. Wearing purple vests with the words “Kashgar Detention Center” printed on them, they were ominously led from a train station by police officers.
In a statement to CNN, officials in Xinjiang said that “cracking down on crimes in accordance with law is the common practice of all countries.”
“Xinjiang’s crackdown on crimes has never been linked to ethnicities or religions,” the statement added. “Transporting inmates by judicial authorities (is related) to normal judicial activities.”
Yet, Human Rights Watch told the Daily Mail, “While HRW hasn’t yet corroborated this footage, it raises the spectre of many of the same kinds of gross human rights violations against Uighurs we have documented – especially mass arbitrary detention and lack of access to family or counsel.
“It underscores the urgent need for an independent investigation; Chinese authorities lost all credibility on this issue months ago by denying these abuses even exist.”
About two per cent of the 1.4 billion population in China comprises of Muslims. The Chinese Muslim population was expected to grow from 23.3 million in 2010 to almost 30 million by 2030.
In recent years, China has been accused of undertaking an ethnic cleansing operation in the Xinjiang region, with the UN saying that over a million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities are being detained in detention camps and subjected to cruel human rights violations. Authorities in China deny such allegations and claim that those individuals are attending “vocational training centres” to promote job opportunities and combat terrorism.
This week, the US has announced that it will impose visa restrictions on any Chinese officials with suspected involvement in the systematic oppression of Muslims. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, denounced the Chinese authorities for having introduced “a highly repressive campaign”.