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US ‘deeply disturbed’ by reports of systematic rape of Muslims in China camps

The United States is “deeply disturbed” by reports of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region and there must be serious consequences for atrocities committed there, the US State Department said on Feb. 3.

A BBC report earlier on Feb. 3 said women in the camps were subject to rape, sexual abuse and torture. The British broadcaster said, “several former detainees and a guard have told the BBC they experienced or saw evidence of an organized system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture.”

One of those interviewed by BBC was Tursunay Ziawudun who spent nine months inside China’s secretive system of internment camps in Xinjiang region.

“The woman took me to the room next to where the other girl had been taken in,” she told the BBC. “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.”

After being tortured in such a manner Ziawudun was returned to her cell. Her younger cellmate, who was subjected to similar treatment, followed an hour later.

“The girl became completely different after that, she wouldn’t speak to anyone, she sat quietly staring as if in a trance,” Ziawudun said. “There were many people in those cells who lost their minds.”

Watch the video part of the BBC report below.

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Asked to comment on the BBC report, a US State Department spokeswoman said: “We are deeply disturbed by reports, including first-hand testimony, of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.”

The spokeswoman reiterated US charges that China has committed “crimes against humanity and genocide” in Xinjiang and added: “These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences.”

The official said the People’s Republic of China (PRC) should allow “immediate and independent investigations by international observers” into the rape allegations “in addition to the other atrocities being committed in Xinjiang.”

The official did not specify what the consequences might be but said Washington would speak out jointly with allies to condemn the atrocities and “consider all appropriate tools to promote accountability for those responsible and deter future abuses.”

The previous US administration of former President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Chinese officials and firms it linked to abuses in Xinjiang, and the administration of new President Joe Biden, which took office on Jan. 20, has made clear it plans to continue a tough approach to Beijing on this and other issues.

The Trump administration on Jan. 19 determined that the PRC has committed “genocide and crimes against humanity” by repressing Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he made the move “after careful examination of the available facts,” accusing the Chinese Communist Party of crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a confirmation hearing on Jan. 19 he agreed with the genocide declaration.

An independent UN human rights panel said in 2018 that it had received credible reports that at least 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslims had been detained in Xinjiang.

Security guards stand at the gates of what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in Huocheng County in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China Sept. 3, 2018. (Photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Last year, a report by German researcher Adrian Zenz published by a Washington think tank accused the Chinese authorities of using forced sterilization, forced abortion and coercive family planning against Muslims in Xinjiang.

Zenz was also intermewed for the BBC report. He said the testimonies gathered for the report was “some of the most horrendous evidence I have seen since the atrocity began”.

“This confirms the very worst of what we have heard before,” Zenz said. “It provides authoritative and detailed evidence of sexual abuse and torture at a level clearly greater than what we had assumed.”

Faith leaders, activist groups and others have said crimes against humanity, including genocide, are taking place in Xinjiang. In August last year, religious leaders, including Myanmar’s Cardinal Charles Bo and Indonesia’s Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo, said in an open letter that the “repression” in the region has become “one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust.”

China’s communist government denies accusations of abuses in Xinjiang, and has said the 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.

With Reuters

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