“On several occasions, the Han police and guards took me out of the cell and into interrogation, and they beat me,” she said. “They used whatever oppressive methods they wanted.”
The “Han” people are the majority ethnic group in China. Uyghur women have reported that they were forced into marriages with Han men after their Uyghur husbands were taken to the camps.
One time, Ziyawudun said, she and a woman in her 20s were taken by camp police officers and brought to “a man in a suit, wearing a mask over his mouth.”
“They raped the young woman,” she said. “Three Han police officers raped me as well.”
This system of rape was commonplace, as the police “were always taking girls out of the cells like this” and “did whatever they wanted.”
“Sometimes they brought some of the women back near the point of death,” she said. “Some of the women disappeared.”
“I saw some of them bleed to death with my own eyes. Some of them even lost their minds in the camp,” said Ziyawudun.
Her second detention began in March 2018, she said, and lasted for nearly one year. She said that she noticed “many new buildings in the camp” as well as camera systems and armed guards.
“Sometimes they showed us propaganda films,” said Ziyawudun. “Sometimes they taught us Chinese law, sometimes they taught us Chinese ‘red’ songs, and sometimes they made us swear oaths of loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.”
The Chinese Communist Party alleges that the camps are “re-education” camps aimed at combating terrorism.
Ziyawudun said she was only able to speak about her experience since she arrived in the United States, through the assistance of the U.S. government and the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
(Story continues below)
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Another survivor of China’s detention camps, Gulzira Auelkhan, testified before a congressional commission on Tuesday. She told members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission that her detention camp had an organized system of forced prostitution and rape.
Auelkhan said she was arrested in 2017 for immigrating to Kazakhstan, and said she was sent to four different camps. She was allowed to leave China for Kazakhstan in January 2019.
In her time in the camps, Auelkhan said she had no privacy and reported being beaten with electric batons if she or others took more than two minutes to use the restroom. Detainees would be punished by being forced to sit in the painful “tiger chair,” at times for 14 hours. If they fainted, guards would douse them with cold water to revive them. Detainees were forced to eat rice, study Mandarin Chinese, and the laws of the Chinese Communist Party.
Also at Wednesday’s summit, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, condemned China’s “genocide” in Xinjiang.
“Xi Jinping’s genocide includes the forced disappearances of millions of Uyghurs into concentration camps, the forced sterilization of Uyghur women, forced abortion of their precious babies, and state abduction of Uyghur children into orphanages far from home to be reared with non-Uyghur upbringing. All of this fits the definition of genocide,” he said.
“The Chinese Communist Party is today systematically erasing Islam in western China—bulldozing mosques and shrines, severely throttling all religious practice, and forcing camp detainees to renounce their faith,” he said.