reeducation camps

The Plight of the Uyghurs Is a Wake-Up Call

The Plight of the Uyghurs Is a Wake-Up Call

Madeleine Kearns

 
 

Reports of the Chinese government’s human-rights abuses of Uyghur minorities has — along with its oppression of Hong Kong, use of mass surveillance, and dubious handling of the coronavirus pandemic — prompted a belated moral wake-up call among Western leaders. Yesterday, the U.S. State Department condemned the latest “atrocities,” reported on by the BBC, as evidence emerged that women in China’s detention camps are being systematically raped, sexually abused, and tortured.

The report comes after the AP revelation last June that Uyghur women were enduring forced abortions and sterilizations. As with the earlier report, the survivor’s testimony regarding the rape allegations is corroborated and convincing. The BBC interviewed several former detainees as well as a female guard. The women’s travel documents, immigration records, and satellite imagery corroborate the timeline, while descriptions of life in the camp corresponded with other survivors’ accounts. From the report:

Asked if there was a system of organised rape, [the female former guard] said: “Yes, rape.”

“They forced me to go into that room,” she said. “They forced me to take off those women’s clothes and to restrain their hands and leave the room.”

Some of the women who were taken away from the cells at night were never returned, Ziawudun said. Those who were brought back were threatened against telling others in the cell what had happened to them.

“You can’t tell anyone what happened, you can only lie down quietly,” she said. “It is designed to destroy everyone’s spirit.”

In response, a spokesperson for the U.S. state department said that “these atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences.” China’s foreign ministry denied the allegations outright, calling the BBC’s investigation a “false report.”

Of course, this is not the first time the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has tried to evade accountability for human-rights violations. The CCP describes the camps where upwards of 2 million Muslims and minorities have been interned and abused as “vocational training centers.” When prisoners’ heads are shaven, their families torn apart, when they are forced to renounce their religion, abort their children, and are raped and tortured, the rest of the world is supposed to believe that this is a necessary “de-radicalization” program.

As George Orwell wrote in “Politics and the English Language,” euphemistic “political language” is specifically “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” As are, of course, blatant lies. Even when presented on British television with drone footage showing Uyghurs being blindfolded and led off like cattle, the Chinese ambassador to the U.K. continued to deny any knowledge of human-rights violations.

Nevertheless, thanks to the brave testimony of survivors and the tenacity of reporters, the moral pressure on politicians to sanction the perpetrators of these human-rights abuses is mounting.

In the U.K., there was a powerful call to action last month when a number of Jewish leaders used Holocaust Memorial Day to highlight the persecution of the Uyghurs. Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to complain that while many Jews are “extremely hesitant to consider comparisons with the Holocaust,” China’s abuse of the Uyghurs is nevertheless “shaping up to be the most serious outrage of our time.”

There has been a clear shift in British policy toward China in the past year. The British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, has described the treatment of the Uyghurs as “gross and egregious human rights abuses.” And Britain has notably toughened up sanctions in the past year, such as instating the Huawei ban, and has been clamping down on CCP propaganda being broadcast under journalistic pretenses in the U.K.

The United States seems to be moving in a similar direction. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, currently pending the Senate’s approval, would prevent American corporations from financial involvement with forced labor. According to polling and analysis by Pew Research, “after originally resisting” sanctions on Chinese companies and officials due to their treatment of the Uyghurs “the American public appears poised to support a tough stance,” with 73 percent support for promoting human rights in China “even if it harms bilateral economic relations.”

Western leaders tasked with answering the diplomatic question of how to deal with China increasingly face an unenviable challenge. But they are right to recognize that ignoring human-rights abuses is no longer an option.

More from National Review

Australia calls for UN access to Xinjiang amid fresh Uighur abuse claims

Australia calls for UN access to Xinjiang amid fresh Uighur abuse claims

Andrew Tillett and Michael Smith

Updated 

The Morrison government has called on China to allow the United Nations into the western province of Xinjiang to investigate allegations of human rights abuses against more than 1 million Uighur Muslim people believed to be held in mass detention facilities.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne made the call on Thursday after the BBC, Britain’s public broadcaster, released a report with a series of accounts from former detainees and a guard who said they experienced or witnessed systematic rape and torture inside the facilities.

Chinese soldiers training in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region this month. There a fresh claims about abuses in Uighur detention camps. AP

The allegations emerged as Scott Morrison and Joe Biden held their first phone conversation since Mr Biden was sworn into the US presidency, with “dealing with China” – in the words of the White House – one of the main topics.

Mr Morrison was confident there would be no weakening in America’s position towards China under the new administration, although “obviously there are differences in how that’s expressed and the nuances that are there”.

“As he said to me again today, he sees the Australia-US relationship as providing the anchor for peace and security in our region,” Mr Morrison said.

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“In terms of our relations between Australia and the United States, there’s nothing to fix there, only things to build on, and we intend to do just that. But I think in the United States, Australia has, and remains to have, a very, very strong and effective partner on these issues of Indo-Pacific security.”

Mr Morrison reissued his invitation to Mr Biden to visit Australia for the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS alliance, and the President had a “keen enthusiasm” to travel here.

“He told me he needs no special reason to come to Australia; he loves the place,” the PM said.

Mr Morrison – who is the ninth world leader to whom Mr Biden has spoken – said they had discussed boosting the role of multilateral bodies including the Five Eyes and the Quadrilateral Dialogue, as well as the “G7 plus”, with Australia invited to attend the summit for the third year running.

Young Uighurs study Chinese law at the Atushi Vocational Training Centre, Xinjiang.  Michael Smith

The two leaders also spoke about the military coup in Myanmar against democratically-elected leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and agreed on the need to hold those responsible accountable.

While Mr Biden has flagged the reimposition of sanctions, Australia and Japan have been more cautious because of concerns that punishing the generals could push Myanmar towards China.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday said the BBC’s report on human rights abuses against the Uighurs “has no factual basis at all”.

“This is not the first time that the BBC has made some false reports on Xinjiang, and each time we refuted false claim and cleared out the situation. As I just said, some of the interviewees turned out to be actors spreading false information,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

But the Morrison government said the claims were disturbing and needed to be investigated.

“Australia has been consistent in raising our significant concerns with the human rights abuses in Xinjiang. These latest reports of systematic torture and abuse of women are deeply disturbing and raise serious questions regarding the treatment of Uighurs and other religious and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang,” Senator Payne’s spokeswoman said.

“We consider transparency to be of utmost importance and continue to urge China to allow international observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, to be given immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang at the earliest opportunity.”

The Australian government’s call will likely further anger China, which is targeting billions of dollars in exports. There has been growing international condemnation of human rights abuses and allegations of genocide in Xinjiang.

The BBC’s report, released on Wednesday, said women in China’s “re-education” camps for Uighurs had been systematically raped, sexually abused and tortured. While there have previously been accounts of sexual abuse in the facilities, the BBC report includes detailed interviews with women who said they were raped.

The report quoted a woman named Tursunay Ziawudun who spent nine months in detention in Xinjiang before fleeing to the United States. She said 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.

The BBC report also interviewed a Kazakh woman from Xinjiang who said she was forced to strip Uighur women naked and handcuff them, before leaving them alone with Chinese men. It also interviewed an anonymous security guard.

As many as 1 million Uighurs are being held in detention camps, or so-called re-education centres, in Xinjiang, according to the United Nations, human rights groups and special investigations by foreign journalists.

China initially denied the camps, where Muslims are reportedly forced to learn Mandarin and sing nationalist Communist Party songs, existed. However, they later claimed ethnic minorities were voluntarily living in facilities where they received career training.

An estimated 11 million Uighurs – an ethnic Turkic group – live in the region, where they are subject to extensive surveillance

Fake accounts gain traction as they praise China, mock US

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AMANDA SEITZ
 
 

A pro-China network of fake and imposter accounts found a global audience on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to mock the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the deadly riot in Washington that left five dead, new research published Thursday found.

Messages posted by the network, which also praised China, reached the social media feeds of government officials, including some in China and Venezuela who retweeted posts from the fake accounts to millions of their followers.

The international reach marked new territory for a pro-China social media network that has been operating for years, said Ben Nimmo, head of investigations for Graphika, the social media analysis firm that monitored the activity.

 

“For the very first time, it started to get a little bit of audience interaction,” Nimmo said.

The network’s messaging aligns closely with posts and comments made by Chinese state officials. But it is unclear who is behind the fake accounts, which posted more than 1,400 videos in English, Mandarin or Cantonese, Nimmo said. One of the Twitter accounts, which had a following of roughly 2,000 users mostly from Latin American, also tweeted the messaging in Spanish.

The posts appear to target social media users outside of America, gaining traction in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Venezuela — places where Chinese and U.S. diplomatic or financial interests have increasingly come into conflict.

“The overall message is: America is doing very badly. China is doing very well,” Nimmo said. “Who do you want to be like?”

The network used photos of Chinese celebrities on the accounts and, in one case, hijacked the verified Twitter account of a Latin American soap opera show to post messages, according to Graphika’s report.

The fake accounts seized on the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington as Congress met to certify the U.S. election results at the Capitol.

One video described the U.S. as a “failed state” and another said that America was “running naked in front of the world” in the wake of the Capitol siege. Three videos Graphika identified described the riots as a “beautiful sight to behold,” mimicking the language used in Chinese state media reports around the news, the report found.

Relations between Washington and Beijing worsened under former President Donald Trump, who launched an aggressive diplomatic and economic offensive against China. That tension has played out on social media, where Chinese state officials have aired pointed criticisms of Trump in recent years. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has been one of the most vocal critics of the U.S. on social media, tweeting a conspiracy theory last year that the coronavirus began in the U.S., despite evidence that the virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

But even after Trump’s exit from office on Jan. 20, the fake network has continued to push anti-U.S. posts.

Some of the accounts have now pivoted to attacking the Democratic Party by accusing leaders of having a “one-party mentality” in videos posted to YouTube, the report found.

Other fake accounts have questioned the safety of American-approved vaccines for COVID-19, despite studies on tens of thousands of people that found no serious side effects.

“The safety of the … vaccine was in doubt, but it was quickly approved,” one of the pro-China videos posted on Jan. 21 claimed in a headline. Other posts praised China’s response to the pandemic, while criticizing America’s ability to contain the deadly virus.

“There’s this cherry-picking of narratives and events that make the U.S. look really bad,” Nimmo said.

Last month, YouTube announced that it had removed more than 3,000 YouTube channels in December that were identified as part of Graphika’s investigation into influence campaigns linked to China. Other Facebook and Twitter accounts identified in Graphika’s report were also removed.

___

Associated Press technology reporter Barbara Ortutay contributed to this report from Oakland, Calif.

Canada says Hong Kong graduates can apply for work permits, slams China on rights

Canada says Hong Kong graduates can apply for work permits, slams China on rights

FILE PHOTO: Supporters hold a rally in Vancouver in solidarity with Hong Kong protesters
 
 
 

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada said on Thursday that Hong Kong graduates of Canadian universities could apply for a new category of three-year work permit next week and expressed fresh concern about China’s clampdown on the former British territory.

The announcement marks the latest step in Canada’s campaign to help Hong Kong after China imposed a new national security law in late June 2020, aimed at anything Beijing regards as subversion, secession or terrorism. About 300,000 Canadian passport holders live in the city.

Under the new visa rules, unveiled last November, any Hong Kong resident who has graduated from a Canadian university in the past five years can apply to work for up to three years. Those with equivalent foreign credentials are also eligible.

 

Visa recipients will also be offered a way to transition more easily to permanent residency.

“Canada continues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the

people of Hong Kong, and is deeply concerned about the new National Security Law and the deteriorating human rights situation there,” the government said in a statement.

After China imposed the law, Ottawa moved quickly to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and banned the export of sensitive military items.

Hong Kong residents currently in Canada temporarily, including visitors, students and workers, can apply online for the visas. Eligible spouses or common-law partners, as well as dependent children, can also apply for a study or work permit.

The measures apply to residents who hold a Hong Kong special administrative region or a British National Overseas passport, created under British law in 1987 that specifically relates to Hong Kong. China and Hong Kong say they no longer recognize the BNO passport as a valid travel document.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney)

China’s state broadcaster CGTN kicked out of UK raising fears of tit-for-tat response from Beijing

China's state broadcaster CGTN kicked out of UK raising fears of tit-for-tat response from Beijing

Our Foreign Staff

·2-min read
 
 
A screen shows a CCTV state media broadcast of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Wuhan, at a shopping centre in Beijing - THOMAS PETER /REUTERS
A screen shows a CCTV state media broadcast of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Wuhan, at a shopping centre in Beijing – THOMAS PETER /REUTERS

China’s state-owned broadcaster has had its licence to broadcast in the UK withdrawn.

TV regulator Ofcom launched an investigation into China Global Television Network (CGTN) last year.

It has now revoked its licence, under laws which state that any licensee must have editorial control of the programmes shown and must not be controlled by political bodies.

CGTN is an international, English-language satellite news channel.

Ofcom’s investigation concluded that Star China Media Limited (SCML), the licence-holder for the service, did not have editorial responsibility for the news channel’s output.

An application to transfer the licence to an entity called China Global Television Network Corporation (CGTNC) was denied.

This was because “crucial information was missing from the application, and because we consider that CGTNC would be disqualified from holding a licence, as it is controlled by a body which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” Ofcom said.

It said it had given the satellite news channel “significant time to come into compliance with the statutory rules. Those efforts have now been exhausted.”

And “following careful consideration, taking account of all the facts and the broadcaster’s and audience’s rights to freedom of expression, we have decided it is appropriate to revoke the licence for CGTN to broadcast in the UK,” it said in a statement.

In 2020, Ofcom found CGTN had breached the broadcasting code by failing to preserve due impartiality in its coverage of the Hong Kong protests.

The regulator is due to reach a decision about sanctions for the breach shortly.

An Ofcom spokeswoman said: “Our investigation showed that the licence for China Global Television Network is held by an entity which has no editorial control over its programmes.

“We are unable to approve the application to transfer the licence to China Global Television Network Corporation because it is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, which is not permitted under UK broadcasting law.

“We’ve provided CGTN with numerous opportunities to come into compliance, but it has not done so. We now consider it appropriate to withdraw the licence for CGTN to broadcast in the UK.”

Coronavirus, rights concerns cloud Beijing Olympics as one-year countdown starts

Coronavirus, rights concerns cloud Beijing Olympics as one-year countdown starts

 
Ludovic Ehret, with Peter Stebbings in Shanghai
 
 

The countdown to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics hit the one-year mark Thursday with preparations overshadowed by the coronavirus and concerns over alleged human rights abuses, including a mass incarceration in Xinjiang.

The Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin on February 4, 2022, just six months after the Tokyo Summer Games, which were pushed back one year because of the pandemic.

With the global health crisis showing no signs of abating, Tokyo’s fate remains uncertain despite Japan’s insistence that it will go ahead.

 

China says its build-up has not been affected and all 12 competition venues — which include new sites and some revamped from the 2008 Summer Olympics — have been completed, according to state media.

On Wednesday, a coalition of 180 campaign groups demanded a boycott by world leaders “to ensure they are not used to embolden the Chinese government’s appalling rights abuses and crackdowns on dissent”.

A group of US senators said Beijing should be stripped of the Games, although the White House said there was no change to the United States’ official stance.

China has dismissed such calls, describing them as “very irresponsible” and politically motivated.

Striking an upbeat tone last month, President Xi Jinping said: “Not only will we host a successful Winter Olympic extravaganza, but also a spectacular Games with unique characteristics.”

But the 12-month countdown to the first Winter Olympics in China looks set to begin with little fanfare.

In August 2007, one year before Beijing staged the 2008 Summer Games, an estimated 10,000 people packed Tiananmen Square for a spectacular ceremony.

The coronavirus makes large public gatherings impossible even though China, where the coronavirus emerged late last year, has brought the outbreak largely under control with lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions.

A recent small uptick in cases, including in the capital, has put China’s ruling Communist Party on edge.

The local organising committee failed to respond to requests for comment about how the ongoing health alert might impact the Games, including whether spectators might be barred.

The International Olympic Committee said in a statement to AFP that it is “identifying possible scenarios we may face in Beijing next year”.

A “task force” including IOC, Chinese and World Health Organization officials “is closely monitoring the global health situation, advancement and distribution of vaccines, testing methods and other major health and hygiene developments in relation to COVID-19”, it said.

– Incarcerated in camps –

China hopes the Games will boost the popularity of winter sports at home and show the country in a positive light abroad.

But there is growing international concern over human rights, in particular the fate of China’s Uighur minority.

Rights groups believe that at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims are incarcerated in camps in the western region of Xinjiang.

China is accused of compelling Uighurs to parrot Communist propaganda and renounce Islam, forcibly sterilising women and imposing a regime of forced labour, all in an alleged effort to eradicate their identity.

The former Trump administration labelled it “genocide”.

After initially denying the camps existed, China’s government abruptly acknowledged them, saying they were vocational training centres aimed at reducing the appeal of Islamic extremism.

The IOC told AFP that concerns raised by campaign groups, including over rights, “were and are raised with the government and local authorities”.

“The Olympic Games are the world’s most powerful symbol of unity in all our diversity,” the IOC said.

But Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said the already poor rights environment has deteriorated “exponentially” since the 2008 Beijing Games, which were seen as a coming-out party for the world’s most populous country.

“At minimum the IOC has to be honest about the context in which these Games will take place,” she said.

US, UK governments condemn reports of systematic rape in Uighur camps

US, UK governments condemn reports of systematic rape in Uighur camps

Thu, February 4, 2021, 7:40 AM

 
 
This photo taken on May 31, 2019 shows a watchtower on a high-security facility near what is believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, on the outskirts of Hotan, in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.
China has created a sprawling network of detention camps for minorities in the Xinjiang region

The US government has said it is “deeply disturbed” by a BBC report detailing allegations of systematic rape of Uighur women in Chinese camps.

“These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences,” a spokesperson said.

In the UK parliament on Friday, Secretary of State Nigel Adams said the report showed “clearly evil acts”.

 

According to estimates, more than a million Uighurs and other minorities have been detained in camps in China.

An investigation published by the BBC on Wednesday contained first-hand testimony of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture of women detainees by police and guards.

China’s foreign ministry has denied the allegations, accusing the BBC of making a “false report”.

What did the BBC investigation uncover?

The testimony given to the BBC detailed allegations of rape and sexual abuse of Uighur women detained in China’s internment camps in the Xinjiang region.

One woman told the BBC that women were removed from their cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled the region after her release and is now in the US, said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.

TZ index
Tursunay Ziawudun spent nine months in a detention camp in Xinjiang in 2018

A Kazakh woman from Xinjiang who was detained for 18 months in the camp system said she was forced to strip Uighur women naked and handcuff them, before leaving them alone with Chinese men.

The Chinese men “would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates”, said Gulzira Auelkhan. “They forced me to take off those women’s clothes and to restrain their hands and leave the room,” she said.

A former guard at one of the camps, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described torture and food deprivation of inmates.

Adrian Zenz, a leading expert on China’s policies in Xinjiang, said the testimony gathered by the BBC was “some of the most horrendous evidence I have seen since the atrocity began”.

“It provides authoritative and detailed evidence of sexual abuse and torture at a level clearly greater than what we had assumed,” he said.

UK, US and Australia call for action

In a statement on Wednesday, a US state department spokesman said: “We are deeply disturbed by reports, including first-hand testimony, of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang”.

“These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences.”

In an urgent question to the UK parliament on Friday, Nus Ghani MP said: “These horrifying stories add to the huge and growing body of evidence detailing atrocities perpetrated by the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang – atrocities which may even be genocidal.”

Ms Ghani called on Secretary of State Nigel Adams to “make a promise today that no further deepening of any ties of any kind will take place with China until a full judicial inquiry has investigated these crimes”.

Mr Adams said the government was “leading international efforts to hold China to account”.

“Anybody who has seen the BBC report cannot help but be moved and distressed by what are clearly evil acts,” he said. He said that the UK would continue to work with European nations and the new US administration to pressure China.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne also commented on the report, saying the United Nations should be given “immediate” access to the region.

“We consider transparency to be of utmost importance and continue to urge China to allow international observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, to be given immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang at the earliest opportunity,” she said.

Human rights groups say the Chinese government has gradually stripped away the religious and other freedoms of the Uighurs, culminating in an oppressive system of mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination, and even forced sterilisation.

China has consistently denied allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and said the camps were not detention camps, but “vocational educational and training centres”.

On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin accused the BBC of making a “false report” that was “wholly without factual basis”.

More coverage of China’s hidden camps

Anti-China activists in Japan call for boycott of Beijing 2022 Games

Anti-China activists in Japan call for boycott of Beijing 2022 Games

Jack Tarrant

·2 min read
 
 
Activists attend a news conference against China hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Tokyo

By Jack Tarrant

TOKYO (Reuters) – A group of anti-China activists campaigning for human rights in Tibet and support for ethnic Uighurs called on Thursday for a boycott of the 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing, saying the Games would embolden China’s government in its crackdowns.

The Beijing Games are due to open in exactly one year but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is coming under pressure from critics of China’s human rights record.

“The IOC foolishly decided on having the winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing (so) we are forced to speak out,” Kalden Obara, president of a group called the Tibetan Community in Japan, told a news conference in Tokyo.

“If China doesn’t stop human rights violations in Tibet and the neighbouring regions, then China should not be allowed to host this 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.”

A coalition of 180 rights groups said in an open letter to various governments on Wednesday that a boycott of the Games would “ensure they are not used to embolden the Chinese government’s appalling rights abuses and crackdowns on dissent”.

Another activist at the Thursday news conference, Hidetoshi Ishii, vice president of the Free Indo-Pacific Alliance, called for countries, including the United States, to act in unison.

“This is not something that only Japan can do, so we want the international community to act together,” Ishii said.

“We want the new Biden administration to join us.”

Among the activists at the news conference was a democracy campaigner from Hong Kong and a representative of a group called the Southern Mongolia Congress.

China’s human rights record has for years been a source of dispute with Western governments. China routinely dismisses Western complaints about its rights record.

The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday it was “deeply disturbed” by reports of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang region and there must be serious consequences for atrocities. [M1L1N2K93KO]

China denies accusations of abuses in Xinjiang, and has said complexes it set up in the region provided vocational training to help stamp out Islamist extremism and separatism. Those in the facilities have since “graduated”, it says.

The idea of an Olympic boycott is fraught political territory for the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden and for corporate sponsors of the Games.

The U.S. adminstration has signalled that it has no plans to bar U.S. athletes from taking part in Beijing 2022. [L1N2K9380].

“We’re not currently talking about changing our posture or our plans as it relates to the Beijing Olympics,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news briefing this week.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Australian politicians condemn “profoundly distressing” Uyghur detention camps in China

Australian politicians condemn “profoundly distressing” Uyghur detention camps in China

 
 
 
 
Australian politicians condemn “profoundly distressing” Uyghur detention camps in China
Labor senator Kimberley Kitching, co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, said the report showed “some of the most horrific and unspeakable human rights abuses.” Source: Kym Smith (News Corp Australia)
  • 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”
 

WARNINGthis 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.”

Taiwan opens ‘milestone’ trade office in Guyana

Taiwan opens 'milestone' trade office in Guyana

Beijing has ramped up pressure on Taiwan’s diplomatic allies since President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016
 
 
 

Taiwan has set up a trade office in Guyana, officials announced on Thursday, a step the United States called a “milestone” as the island tries to push back against China’s campaign to keep it isolated.

Taipei said it signed an agreement with the South American country last month to set up the Taiwan Office.

“This milestone will benefit both partners and advance security, democratic values and prosperity in the region,” Julie Chung, acting assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, wrote on Twitter.

“Closer ties with Taiwan will advance cooperation and development in Guyana on the basis of shared democratic values, transparency, and mutual respect,” the US Embassy in Guyana said in a statement.

Only 15 countries officially recognise Taiwan over China, which sees the democratic, self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if needed.

Beijing has ramped up military pressure and snatched seven of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies since President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016, as she refused to acknowledge its stance that the island belongs to “one China”.

China also keeps Taiwan locked out of international bodies such as the World Health Organization.

As a result, any successful move to expand or protect existing diplomatic relations is seen as a major win by Taipei and its biggest unofficial ally Washington.

Beijing on Thursday said it hoped “the parties concerned will abide by the one China principle” and “correct their mistakes.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular press briefing that any attempt by Taiwan “to get foreign support and engage in separatist activities is doomed to fail.”

Last year, Taiwan opened reciprocal offices with the de facto sovereign territory of Somaliland, a move that sparked an angry rebuke from China.

The office in Guyana initiated operations provisionally on January 15, according to Taiwan’s foreign ministry.

Guyana will enjoy similar conditions and privileges if it decides to set up an office in Taiwan, the ministry added.