Xinjiang a ‘dystopian hellscape’ where torture is common

Xinjiang a ‘dystopian hellscape’ where torture is common

Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang face systematic state-organised mass imprisonment, torture and persecution amounting to crimes against humanity: Amnesty International.

China is committing human rights abuses on Muslim minorities within the province of Xinjiang, a “dystopian hellscape” where brainwashing and torture in camps are commonplace, human rights group, Amnesty International has said during a new report.

In a report published on Thursday, the group said many thousands of Muslim minority men and ladies were being subjected to mass internment and torture, systemic mass surveillance and being forced to abandon their religious traditions, cultural practices and native languages.

“Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) face systematic state-organised mass imprisonment, torture and persecution amounting to crimes against humanity,” the report said, quoting dozens of latest testimonies from former camp detainees.

Sleep deprivation, beatings, and therefore the use of “tiger chairs” - iron chairs with iron buckles to restrain those being questioned - were recorded, the report said, adding that detainees might be hooded and shackled during questioning.

“The Chinese authorities have created a ‘dystopian hellscape’ on a staggering scale in XUAR,” Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General , said at the discharge of the report.

“It should shock the conscience of humanity that massive numbers of individuals are subjected to brainwashing, torture and other degrading treatment in internment camps, while millions more sleep in fear amid a huge surveillance apparatus,” Callamard added.

The Chinese government doesn't deny the existence of camps in XUAR - it first acknowledged the camps in October, 2018 - but says they're a part of anti-terrorism and de-radicalisation efforts within the region in accordance with the law to guard people’s lives.

In February, state councillor and secretary of state Wang Yi told the UN Human Rights Council that it had been taking counter-terrorism measures in accordance with the law which Xinjiang enjoyed “social stability and sound development” after four years with none “terrorist case”.

People of all ethnic groups enjoy labour rights and Muslims were liberal to pray within the 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang, he said. “These basic facts show that there has never been so-called genocide, forced labour, or religious oppression in Xinjiang.”

Amnesty International, however, said counter-terrorism couldn't reasonably account for mass detention, which the Chinese government’s actions showed a “clear intent to focus on parts of Xinjiang’s population collectively on the idea of faith and ethnicity and to use severe violence and intimidation to uproot Islamic religious beliefs and Turkic Muslim ethno-cultural practices”.

The report also said Muslims weren't liberal to practice their religion in Xinjiang. Dozens of Muslim men and ladies told the organisation that the regional “Chinese authorities showed extraordinary hostility towards their Islamic faith. Basic religious and cultural practices are deemed ‘extremist’ and used as grounds for detention”.

As a result, most of the people have stopped praying or showing any outward signs of observing Islam. “We couldn’t say ‘as-salamu-alaykum’ [a typical greeting in many Islamic cultures meaning ‘peace be upon you’] …anymore,” one man told Amnesty International. “Qurans, prayer mats and other religious artefacts have effectively been banned.”

The new report is probably going to feature to the international pressure on China over its policies for minorities in Xinjiang, described by the US, UK and Canada and Lithuania as genocide.

The government has also been accused of completing forced sterilisation of Uighur women, a charge that has also been denied by the authorities.

In March, the EU, US, UK, and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over the alleged abuses; Beijing responded with tit-for-tat sanctions on lawmakers, researchers, and institutions.

In the report, Amnesty said the Chinese government “…must immediately close all the remaining internment camps and release all persons held in internment camps or other detention facilities - including prisons - in Xinjiang, unless there's sufficient credible and admissible evidence that they need committed an internationally recognised offence”.


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