Rape in Xinjiang Camps: Male Inmates Are Victims Too
Encouraged by the women who pierced the veil of silence, men are telling tales of how they were sexually abused in the transformation through education camps.
by Massimo Introvigne
Last week, all of a sudden, the BBC destroyed any tactical propaganda advantages China might have obtained from WHO inspectors singing the praise of how cooperative and transparent were those who showed them the laboratories in Wuhan. No detective would expect to find clues on a crime scene after more than one year, and that China has “friends” at the WHO has been an open secret for years.
But any brownie points China might have imagined it was winning with international media disappeared when the BBC told the horrific tale of how women are systematically raped in Xinjiang’s dreaded transformation through education camps. The story was not about occasional abuses by rogue guards. The brave women who testified denounced a pervasive “rape culture,” where sexual abuse is a tool to break Muslim identity and the self-respect of the female inmates. This is going so far that rape by prison guards is supplemented by night visits of masked Chinese men, to whom the female prisoners are “rented” for more abuse.
The Chinese foreign ministry ridiculed itself by arguing that the women who testified were “actresses” recruited by the BBC, while in fact all appeared with their real names, and their connections with the camps had been verified. The US, UK, and Australian government quoted the BBC report to condemn the atrocities and abuse of women in Xinjiang. Other governments, international institutions, and politicians all around the world did the same.
Bitter Winter, which contributed to the BBC report by supplying exclusive footage taken inside the transformation through education camps, reviewed the program hours after it was broadcasted. We received through our usual channels praise for our article (and much more for the BBC, of course) from former inmates in Chinese “educational” camps and jails. Some women who never found the courage to testify about rape with their real names told us they are considering doing this.
They also insisted that the horrific scenes of rape and torture described in the BBC report do not happen only in Xinjiang, nor are Muslim women the only victims. Female inmates from the banned religious movements labeled xie jiao, such as The Church of Almighty God and Falun Gong, are also raped. Their stories are remarkably similar to those told to the BBC by the Uyghur and ethnic Kazakh women who encountered rape in the Xinjiang camps. The same combination of obsessive indoctrination and sexual abuse is used to deprogram or “de-convert” from their beliefs female devotees of The Church of Almighty God and Falun Gong all around China.
There is more. More than one ethnic Kazakh who now live in foreign countries insisted with Bitter Winter that the tale of how men are also raped in the Xinjiang camps by male guards should be told. They said that sexual abuse of men in the camps is also a regular rather than an occasional occurrence, particularly with respect to the younger boys.
We asked whether none of them came out to testify as a handful of brave women, some of them ethnic Kazakhs, did for the BBC report and even before. The answer was that within the Kazakh society, including in the diaspora, admitting this kind of rape is particularly difficult. Some of their relatives and friends may believe that these former inmates are homosexual, while this is not the case. To our objection that same-sex sexual activity has been de-criminalized in Kazakhstan, they answered that, the laws notwithstanding, even being simply suspected of being homosexual leads to several forms of social ostracism. This seems confirmed by the fact that in a 2015 international survey Kazakhstan ranked #118 in a list of the world countries where homosexuals live a more peaceful and happy life.
Some of the men raped in the Xinjiang camps did tell their stories to human rights activists in Kazakhstan and elsewhere, but did not authorize them to publicize these reports with details that may lead, even indirectly, to their identification.
Until some of the raped men will testify with their names, surnames, and details of their detention, the CCP will deny that rape of male inmates happens in the transformation through education camps—although for that matter they deny it also in the case of women, where these details have already emerged. We are, however, satisfied that those who told us these stories are telling the truth.
One of the women who talked to the BBC, Tursenay Ziawudun, was subsequently interviewed by Fox News, and mentioned that, “We’re humans, but the way they torture these girls and even boys it’s like we’re animals.” “Even boys,” she said. Another part of the horrible truth is gradually emerging