Activists call for solidarity against Beijing’s atrocities on Uyghur women

Washington: On the occasion of International Womens’ Day, female activists around the world called on international women’s institutions as well as feminist allies from across the world to speak out against Beijing’s repression of the Uyghur women.

According to a recent British media report, citing interviews, Uyghur women in China’s Xinjiang region were subject to sexual assault, as the nation’s continues to impose severe crackdowns against the community.

In an open letter dated on Saturday, female Uyghur activists in the diaspora said that the women in the community are forced to marry Han Chinese men. Mothers are forcibly separated from their children, who are often placed in Chinese state-run orphanages, in spite of the fact that their parents are alive.

The letter was jointly signed by; Kazakh camp survivor Mihrigul Tursun, Uyghur camp survivor Qelbinur Sidiq, Uzbek camp survivor Sayragul Sautbay, Kazakh camp survivor Tursunay Ziyawudun and several others.

“Communist Party cadres are incentivised by the government to move into Uyghur homes under a “double relatives” program to monitor and supervise the family. For most Uyghur women, whose husbands are in concentration camps or in prisons, this creates a humiliating environment where women are subject to sexual abuse,” the letter read.

The letter also stated that recently, women from East Turkistan have come forward to share their horrific experiences of systematic sexual violence which they were subjected to inside the concentration camps in East Turkistan.

In response to these victims’ testimonies, “the Chinese government officials have started an aggressive campaign against these women to slander them through personal, sexist attacks on their character.”

“Uyghur and Kazakh women have long been at the forefront of this crisis, providing the international community with their firsthand experience and exposing the Chinese government’s genocidal policies in East Turkistan. The entire international community ought to applaud them for bravely disclosing firsthand experiences,” the letter added.

The activists said the most intrinsic rights of Uyghur and Turkic women in East Turkistan are being violated on a daily basis. The Chinese government has effectively taken control over their body, labour rights and family lives.

“We need women all around the world to stand up with us in the face of atrocities like the ones Uyghur and other Turkic women are currently experiencing. On the occasion of the 2021 International Women’s Day, we call on international women’s institutions as well as our feminist allies from across the world to speak out against the CCP’s brutal repression of Uyghur and Turkic women,” the activists wrote.

Meanwhile, China declined to provide data on the number of people in the camps. Beijing had initially denied the very existence of the camps, but now claims that they are educational and vocational centres and that everyone has “graduated.”

Uyghurs make up most of the one million people who the UN estimates have been held in camps in Xinjiang as part of what the central government calls a campaign against terrorism.

Also, Beijing has rejected calls for an independent UN investigation into Xinjiang’s internment program. Journalists and diplomats are not allowed access to the camps outside of tightly controlled government tours.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has called China’s treatment of Uyghurs genocide, a position recently adopted by Canada and the Netherlands.

China faces sanctions such as a ban on US purchases of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang and calls from some Western lawmakers to boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

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