After Facing Torture in China, One Uyghur Shares Her Story and Calls for Action
Sterilization, electric shock torture, and brainwashing are hallmarks of the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of the Uyghur people, according to prison camp survivors.
“Genocide is occurring. This time at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., said at the start of the Select Committee on the CCP hearing Thursday night.
Gulbahar Haitiwaji and Qelbinur Sidik witnessed firsthand the realities of Chinese concentration camps where Uyghur Muslims are held and tortured. Speaking through a translator, the two women recounted stories from the prison camps during the select committee hearing titled, “The Chinese Communist Party’s Ongoing Uyghur Genocide.”
Haitiwaji is Uyghur and lived and worked in China before moving to France. At the end of 2016, she was called back to China for an issue that she was told regarded her retirement pension. Upon returning to China, Haitiwaji was arrested and sent to a “reeducation” camp.
“First they shackled my feet and then they detained [me],” Haitiwaji said. The woman’s condition in the detention centers are horrible. All women are shackled and our language… we are all prohibited to speak.”
Haitiwaji, author of “How I Survived a Chinese ‘Reeducation’ Camp: A Uyghur Woman’s Story,” said she and the other women in the prison were interrogated and tortured.
“The rooms we were kept in had bunk beds, a bucket to serve as a toilet, and cameras panning the room,” Haitiwaji said in her written testimony. “There was no mattress, no toilet paper, no sheets, nowhere to wash.”
Every day, Haitiwaji underwent 11 hours of Chinese language education.
Sidik, who also testified before Congress, was one of the instructors in the “reeducation” camps.
Sidik is Uzbek and a teacher by trade. In 2017, she was living in China and was told that she was being assigned to a new teaching position. Sidik did not realize until she arrived at her new job that her pupils were Uyghur Muslims living in a concentration camp.
“For each meal they eat one Chinese bun and water, and even going for toilet is monitored,” Sidik, speaking through a translator, said of her students, adding that within the six months she was there, “none of them had any shower.”
Sidik said her students would be called from her classroom for interrogation. Because the interrogation rooms were located near the classrooms, she would hear “horrible screaming sound from torture.”
“There are four types of torturing methods,” Sidik said. “One is electric button, electric helmet, electric glove, and a tiger chair.”
Every Monday, Sidik recalls that female prisoners were given an unknown medicine. “After they take that, those medicines [then] the period will stop,” she said. “Even some woman who were breastfeeding the babies, the breast milk will stop after taking that medicine.”
Sidik said in her written testimony that while working at an all women “center,” that sometimes, when the women “would come to class, I could tell [by] how they walked with difficulty or were sobbing that they had been sexually abused.”
The police working in the camps were “raping women but also inserting batons, even electric ones, into their private parts and even men’s rectums,” Sidik said.
Sidik was eventually able to leave China for the Netherlands, where she lives now. Haitiwaji also managed to return to France, but only after she was forced to confess her alleged crimes. Now, both women are calling on America to stop the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China.
“I am asking the United States government to do the following,” Haitiwaji said in her written testimony: "Pass more laws to end our suffering and hold those responsible accountable. Please rescue Uyghur and other Turkic refugees, like Canada has done. Please stop American companies from continuing to be complicit in surveilling our people and profiting from their labor. Please stop pension fund investments in China’s high-tech surveillance companies. I was shocked to learn that Americans are pouring their money into Dahua, Hikvision, Huawei, Tencent, and others that we are familiar with as being the power behind the Chinese State’s heavy hand over our lives."
Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow and director in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, testified before Congress following Haitiwaji and Sidik’s remarks. Zenz challenged members of Congress to pursue three specific policy recommendations in response to the atrocities China is committing against Uyghur Muslims.
"The U.S. government should sanction implicated current and former central government officials. My testimony contains a list. So far, the U.S. has not sanctioned a single central government official, even though they are implicated. Having determined genocide in Xinjiang, second, the government should spell out how it will follow through on its treaty obligation to prevent the crime of genocide. Third, the government should establish measures to prevent U.S. investors, such as pension funds, to invest in Chinese entities implicated in human rights violations, surveillance, and military modernization."
Gallagher, chairman of the House’s select committee on China, told his colleagues it the “least we can do on this committee is to make sure that in fifty years—when the Xinjiang genocide is remembered as one of the abominations of the 21st century—no corporate executive, no policy maker, no investor, no university president can look their grandchildren in the eye and claim they didn’t know.”
This article originally appeared in The Daily Signal.