ACCOUNTS from inside China’s detention camps where millions of Uihhur Mulims are brainwashed and tortured, paints the Xinjiang region as a “dystopian hellscape”.
Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities face systematic and state-organised “mass internment and torture amounting to crimes against humanity, International Amnesty has said in a new 160-page report.
‘Like We Were Enemies in a War’: China’s Mass Internment, Torture, and Persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang, which was published on Thursday, describes how minority groups had been forced to abandon their religious traditions, language and culture and subjected to mass surveillance.
These reports acted to support former allegations of genocide and ethnic cleansing,
Last year, Uighur woman Zumret Dawut told the Sun of how she was shackled, beaten and given a mystery injection inside one of the camps, before being sterilised so she couldn’t have any more kids.
Her account fits into recent reports, in which China has been accused of adopting birth-control policies targeting minorities groups, aiming to slash between 2.6 to 4.5 million births within two decades.
More than 50 former camp detainees were interviewed for the Amnesty International report, all of whom were said to be detained for what appeared to be entirely lawful conduct.
Reasons cited for their detainment included possession of a religious-themed picture or communicating with someone abroad, the report said.
Many of the witnesses were subject to intense police interrogation, beatings and deprivation of sleep, and were made to sit up to 24 hours in so-called “tiger chairs”, which had leg and hand restraints that held detainees in painful positions.
The witnesses said that many of them underwent intense interrogation at police stations, and the process included beatings and sleep deprivation.
Two detainees interviewed for the report said they had been forced to wear heavy shackles – in one case for an entire year. Others spoke of being shocked with electric batons or sprayed with pepper spray.
Amnesty International’s report detailed one case in which a detainee was believed to have died as a result of being restrained in a tiger chair.
He sat in the chair for 72 hours, during which time he urinated and defecated on himself.
The interviewees provided detailed inside accounts of the conditions and treatment of Uighurs, as well as other groups.
Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary-general and a former UN investigator on human rights said: “The Chinese authorities have created a dystopian hellscape on a staggering scale in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region”.
“It should shock the conscience of humanity that massive numbers of people have been subjected to brainwashing, torture and other degrading treatment in internment camps, while millions more live in fear amid a vast surveillance apparatus.”
“China must immediately dismantle the internment camps, release the people arbitrarily detained in them and in prisons, and end the systematic attacks against Muslims in Xinjiang,” said Callamard.
“The international community must speak out and act in unison to end this abomination, once and for all.”
As well as the Uighurs and Kazakhs, people from the Hui, Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Tajik minorities across Xinjiang have also been detained and abused as part of the campaign.
China has previously denied accusations of genocide and ethnic cleansing, saying the camps are reather vocational training centres aimed at diminishing the threat of “extremism”.
But according to the report, huge numbers of Uighur men and women – along with those belonging to other ethnic minorities – have been detained or imprisoned.
This included hundreds of thousands who had been sent to prisons, as well as the one million chinese nationals the UN estimated had been sent to the internment camps.
On Thursday, a United States Senate committee held a hearing in which the alleged camps in Xinjiang were addressed, with testimony from both Uighur advocates and US researchers.
US legislators were considering bans on imports of solar panels and other products made with forced labour and plan to probe the role of US technology firms in enabling China’s mass repression in Xinjiang, Al Jazeera reported.
Senator Tim Kaine said: “We have some very concrete steps we can take,” having adopting the Amnesty report as part of the Senate hearing record.
In March, the US joined the EU, UK and Canada in a move levying specific sanctions on Chinerse officials for what Secretary of State Antony Blinken called “genocide and crimes against humanity”.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has prebviosly defended Beijing against the accusations, denying reports of genocide, forced labour or religious oppression.
Meanwhile, Amnesty said it would be stepping up its campaign, pledging to secure the release of dozens of people from Muslim minorities who were missing, presumed detained in Xinjiang.
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