Chinese women, who allege they were inside China's concentration camps, claim that "extremely sadistic" guards carried out gang rapes and brutal beatings.
Qelbinur Sidik grew up in Xinjiang and spent 28 years teaching elementary school students age 6 to 13. In 2016, the Saybagh District Bureau of Education informed her that she would be working at an internment camp in Xinjiang, which is believed to be a "re-education camp" for an estimated 1.5 million Uighur and other Muslim ethnic minorities. Sidik claims that she was instructed to teach Mandarin to detainees.
Sidik claims that on her first day in the camp, she met with about 100 men and a handful of women.
"They came in, their feet and hands chained in shackles," Sidik told CNN from her home in the Netherlands. "I turned slightly, I saw their tears falling down their beards, the female detainees were crying loudly."
While in her classroom in the internment camp in northwest China, Sidik claims that she could hear detainees crying and screaming from their cells.
Sidik said a female police officer told her that the male guards would get drunk and brag to each other about how they "raped and tortured girls."
"During the time I was teaching in there, I witnessed horrific tragedy," said Sidik, who is an ethnic Uzbek.
Tursunay Ziyawudun, another alleged witness of the atrocities at the Chinese Communist Party's concentration camp, said she was sent to the camp despite committing no crimes. She was released after a month only to be sent back for a nine-month sentence that she describes as a "nightmare."
Speaking to CNN from the United States, Ziyawudun alleged that large groups of women were given little food and crammed into small spaces. They were "brutally punished for small things like using the facilities for too long," Ziyawudun said, adding that she was beaten so savagely that she passed out.
Another time, guards forced her on to a table where they "inserted a stun baton" inside her and "twisted and shocked" her until she "blacked out" from the pain. A couple of weeks later she was ganged raped by several men, an experience she said happened to her multiple times while in the camps.
"They were extremely sadistic, causing pain and damage to the body by beating and smacking my head on the wall," Ziyawudun said, "It was their way of punishing us."
Ziawudun also gave an interview to BBC, where she detailed her time at the detainment center. She alleged that after midnight, men who were wearing suits and not police uniforms took women, including herself, down the corridor to a "black room," where there were no surveillance cameras.
She said she was tortured and gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.
"Perhaps this is the most unforgettable scar on me forever," she said. "I don't even want these words to spill from my mouth."
After the BBC ran the report of rape and torture at the Xinjiang concentration camp, the CCP permanently banned the British Broadcasting Corporation. The Chinese government accused the BBC of not meeting the government's standards for "true and impartial" reporting, adding that the news organization allegedly "undermined China's national interests and ethnic solidarity."
Mihrigul Tursun, a member of the Uighur minority in China, explained her experience at the internment camp.
"Mihrigul Tursun, speaking to reporters in Washington, said she was interrogated for four days in a row without sleep, had her hair shaved and was subjected to an intrusive medical examination following her second arrest in China in 2017. After she was arrested a third time, the treatment grew worse," CBS News reported in 2018.
Tursun said that the women in the camp were forced to take unknown medication, including "pills that made them faint and a white liquid that caused bleeding in some women and loss of menstruation in others." Tursun said that nine women died during her three-month imprisonment.
The Associated Press reported in June that the Chinese government is "taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population." The investigation discovered "widespread and systematic" efforts to reduce the minority population, including state-mandated pregnancy checks of minority women, forced use of intrauterine devices, sterilization, and abortion.
Xu Guixiang, a spokesperson for the Communist Party publicity department in Xinjiang, released a statement on Feb 1.
"There is no 'rounding up thousands of Uyghur Muslims,'" the spokesperson said. "What we have cracked down on, according to the law, are a few heinous and obstinate leaders and backbones of extremist groups. What we have rescued are those who have been infected with religious extremism and committed minor crimes."
The Chinese Communist Party officially calls the camps "vocational education and training centers."
CNN noted that they have no way of verifying the testimony from Sidik and Ziyawudun, but states they are similar to other accounts from victims of the Chinese concentration camps.
Ziyawudun told CNN, "I am a woman in my forties. Do you think this is something I can be proud of sharing with the world?"
She said, "I would tell them I am not afraid of them anymore, because they already killed my soul."
On Tuesday during a CNN town hall, President Joe Biden said, "And so the idea that I am not going to speak out against what he's doing in Hong Kong, what he's doing with the Uighurs in western mountains of China and Taiwan — trying to end the one China policy by making it forceful … [Xi] gets it."
However, Biden also hinted that some of Xi Jinping's controversial leadership is excusable, "Culturally there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow."
"If you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been, the time when China has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven't been unified at home," Biden stated. "So the central — well, vastly overstated — the central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that."
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