Uyghur women give account of inhuman treatment in Xinjiang detention camp


A Uyghur woman testified at an independent tribunal in London that she was raped by Chinese police officers at a Xinjiang camp.

Tursunay Ziyawudun, who testified via video link and through an interpreter, said she was raped with iron bars and electric rods as she broke down in tears while recounting her story.

“It’s very difficult for me to even think about that night. It was just a horrific time, a time when I was dead,” Ziyawudun said. “That equipment is just horrible. The bleeding was non-stop.”

The 42-year-old also said she was physically raped three times during her detention at an internment camp.

“The horrific thing that happened is not only a simple rape – it is extreme, inhuman torture. They will also kick you, hit you on the wall. They bite your body just like dogs.”

Ms. Ziyawudun was giving evidence on the second day of the tribunal set up to assess whether China’s alleged human rights abuses against Uyghur people constitute genocide.

The four-day hearings do not have the backing of the UK government and has no powers to sanction China.

“The public wants an answer to this question,” tribunal chairman Sir Geoffrey Nice told Sky News.”If nobody else will provide it, we will.”

The organisers of the tribunal hope the evidence heard during its hearings will compel the international community to take action against China.

“I think there’s a reasonable chance, better than usually with such tribunals,” said Sir Geoffrey, a British barrister who led the prosecution of ex-Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and has worked with the International Criminal Court.

An estimated one million people, most of them Uyghurs – a Muslim ethnic group living largely in the northwest Chinese province of Xinjiang – are thought to have been detained inside “re-education camps” in recent years.

Zumret Dawut, another Uyghur woman, told the hearing she was detained in a camp for 62 days and was repeatedly forced to ingest unknown medication.

“It was a white tablet and we had to take it every day,” she said. “To make sure we had taken it, the camp officials would put gloves on and insert their hands in our mouths to check we had swallowed.”

Ms. Dawut, who also spoke via video link and through an interpreter, told the nine-person panel she lost 18kg during her detention and had blood taken every 15 days.

“We don’t know how much blood they’re taking from us because we’re inside a cell. We just put out our arms through a hole in the cell door and we don’t see how much blood they take out,” she said.

China has consistently denied claims of human rights abuses and says the camps were designed to offer Chinese language lessons and job support, as well as to combat religious extremism.

China experienced a wave of Xinjiang-related terror attacks in 2016.

In April, the UK parliament passed a motion that declared the Uyghur people are being subjected to genocide while the US, Canada and the Netherlands have made similar declarations.

Despite repeated invitations to participate, the Chinese embassy in London has not commented on the hearing, which is due to hold another four-day session in September.

Sky News has contacted the Chinese embassy for comment. (Source: Sky News)