Australian politicians condemn “profoundly distressing” Uyghur detention camps in China
- Following a report by the BBC, Liberal and Labor senators have accused the Chinese Communist Party of unspeakable human rights abuses in China’s Uyghur detention camps
- The report includes testimonies from a former prison guard and several now-released detainees
- It outlines widespread instances of torture, beatings, rape and food deprivation
- It’s estimated that around one million Uyghurs have been held at what the CCP calls “re-education camps” over the past 10 years
- The CCP has firmly denied any wrongdoing, saying the accusations are “a lie concocted by some anti-China forces and a farce staged to smear and defile China”
WARNING: this story contains graphic content.
Following a report by the BBC, Liberal and Labor senators have accused the Chinese Communist Party of unspeakable human rights abuses in China’s Uyghur detention camps.
The report, which includes rare testimony from a former prison guard and first-hand accounts from several now-released detainees, is likely to add to the growing international condemnation of the CCP’s activities in Xinjiang, which the U.S. has formally declared genocide.
Tursunay Ziawudun, a Uyghur woman who fled to Kazakhstan before moving to the U.S., spent nine months in detention. She said she was tortured and raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.
“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,” she said.
Another, Sayragul Sauytbay, who worked as a Chinese language teacher at one of the camps, described one incident where a young girl of only 20 or 21 was brought before roughly 100 other detainees to make a forced confession.
“After that, in front of everyone, the police took turns to rape her,” she recounted.
It’s estimated that around one million Uyghurs have been held at what the CCP calls “re-education camps” over the past 10 years, claiming the facilities are necessary to combat terrorism after isolated acts of violence took place between 2011 and 2014.
The former guard, who spoke to the BBC on the condition of anonymity, said detainees were made to memorise books to pass loyalty tests. They were then given different colours of clothing depending on how many times they had failed, and would be subject to increasingly severe punishments, including food deprivation and beatings.
“The so-called ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang is a completely false accusation, a lie concocted by some anti-China forces and a farce staged to smear and defile China,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, who has repeatedly dismissed the allegations of persecution, torture and sterilisation.
But Labor senator Kimberley Kitching said the stream of evidence steadily flowing from the Xinjiang region “leaves no room for doubt as to the oppression Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are living under.”
“Despite the CCP’s constant denials, the international community can no longer be idle in the face of this brutal repression,” she added.
Liberal senator James Paterson also said the reports were “profoundly distressing.”
“The ongoing systemic mistreatment of the Uyghur people by the Chinese Communist Party is an affront to universal values of human dignity and must be resolutely condemned by the world,” he continued.
Both Kitching and Paterson are co-chairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, which consists of up to 200 Members of Parliament from Europe, the U.S. and the Indo-Pacific and focuses on challenging the country’s growing power and human rights abuses.
In a statement, the alliance called for a UN-led investigation into crimes against humanity.
“The time for mere words has long passed,” it said. “We must now move towards a co-ordinated effort to hold the Chinese government to account. These atrocities must be stopped.”