Trigger Warning: Descriptions of sexual torture, rape
Fragments of life inside Muslim concentration camps have swirled around the media for years, but the leak of over 400 pages of internal information, the brutality is finally shown in a larger picture. After an attack by Muslim extremists in 2014, China’s President Xi Jinping began to open the camps. A vast majority of the camps are in the province of Xinjiang, and rapidly expanded in 2016.
According to the documents, hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been taken since 2017. The majority are Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim group that historically faced discrimination in China.
According to the New York Times, Xi called for an end to extreme Islam. He claims religion is like a disease and thus, Muslims must be cured. He stated this antidote is “a period of painful, interventionary treatment.” Xi also proclaimed China must “show absolutely no mercy.”
The U.S. government estimates between 1 and 3 million Muslims have been detained.
Some women who have fled China recount the sexual torture they and many others were forced to endure. Gulzira Mogdyn was forced to have an abortion, explaining doctors “cut my fetus out” without anesthesia. Two years later, she is still suffering from medical complications. Mogdyn, however, was not in the camps where sexual abuse and humiliation are practically universal.
One Uighur woman who spoke to The Washington Post recalls that “any woman or man under age 45 was raped and sexually abused.” Multiple former detainees corroborate that claim, saying women were taken from their cells in the middle of the night to be raped. Some never returned.
Other women report being forced to shower and use the toilet in groups with the restrooms filled with cameras. Female guards would use gum to pull at pubic hair. Some women were also forced to put chile peppers mixed with water on their genitals before showering. One detainee recounted the liquid “burned like fire.”
China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry refutes these stories.
By Amira Pierotti