A recent report in the BBC based on interviews with former detainees and a guard of China’s “re-education camps” for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims brings out the most horrific side of what has been happening in these camps for quite a while. The report details horrific allegations of rape, sexual abuse and torture.
The report provides distressing personal accounts of survivors who talk about women being taken away by masked men. The accounts point to an organised system of mass rape, abuse and torture.
Responding to the report, the US state department said in a statement, “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.”
According to independent estimates, more than a million men and women have been detained in what China calls “re-education camps”.
Human rights groups claim that people have been detained for even owning a Quran or abstaining from eating pork. Reports point to torture, abuse, medical neglect, coercive birth control and forced sterilization resulting in a system of mass surveillance and indoctrination.
China has continuously denied allegations of human rights violations and genocide in these camps and calls them “vocational education and training centres” even after there is enough evidentiary support to prove otherwise. Responding to the BBC report, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that it is a “false report” that was “wholly without factual basis”.
Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne also responded saying, “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”.
In December the International Criminal Court denied investigating into the matter saying the alleged acts happened in the territory of China, which is not a signatory of the ICC.