Tursenay Ziawudun is a survivor of one of the forced labor camps that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has in the Xinjiang area. Nearly one million Uighur Muslims have been detained and suffer persecution. Ziawudun has managed to escape, and now, from the United States, she is recounting her ordeals to gain the support and intervention of the international community.
Ziawudun lived in Kazakhstan with her husband but returned to northwest China’s Xinjiang province in the hope of finding work and becoming a nurse. One day, while walking with her husband, a group of men abducted her and threw her into a detention camp; the only crime they could pin on her was her religion.
In a powerful interview she gave to Fox News, Ziawudun recounted the hardships she endured at Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hands during her months in prison. Her aim in speaking out is to inform the general population about what is happening in Xinjiang today and thus exert enough pressure for the international community to act on China to end such atrocities.
Ziawudun endured forced re-education by the CCP and indoctrination of the communist narrative about China’s history and President Xi Jinping’s supposed greatness, hour after hour, every day, all the while being forced to repudiate her religion, Islam. She was discharged because of a stomach ulcer a month later.
But a few months later, she was called back. She thought it would be like the first visit, but instead, everything was different. The labor camps had grown larger, more like a prison. She could see the massive movement of buses continually bringing in new detainees.
Ziawudun began her story by saying, “We need everyone to help, not just America,” she told the reporter in a broken voice. She continued, “We’re humans, but the way they torture these girls and even boys, it’s like we’re animals.”
“First, they stripped off my clothing. Then they tore out my earrings, so my ears were bleeding—but I didn’t feel the pain. I felt worse for one elderly woman, like a grandmother. They stripped everything off her, and she kept falling on the ground, and they kept pushing her and pulling her up, and she just kept falling down. How could you do that to a mother?”
After that came the worst—nine months of serial gang rape, violent beatings, and torture with electric prods.
“Any woman under 40 was raped,” Ziawudun said. “Everyone in the camp experienced this. And, of course, I did, too. I was also beaten—I was kicked and stamped on—once so much on my private parts that I was bleeding, and I since had to have my ovaries removed.”
More than ten people shared each cell, and most nights, someone was abused or went missing, Ziawudun reported. An estimated 10,000 people lived in her camp.
Torture was constant, and many of her cellmates were so broken they could no longer speak. She also told of young children beaten to death and unknown injections given to detainees regularly.
After nine months of forced re-education, Ziawudun was released and, with the Uyghur Human Rights Project’s help, fled China to find refuge in the United States.
The administration of former President Donald Trump was a strong supporter of Uighur human rights. Its officials took it upon themselves to denounce at every opportunity the atrocities committed by the CCP, even taking concrete measures such as banning imports from the Xinjiang area.
One of the latest actions promoted by the Trump administration was to declare the persecution of the Uighur minority by the CCP under the category of genocide, following a systemic and organized action to reduce the Muslim population.
“After careful review of the available facts, I have determined that the People’s Republic of China, under the direction and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Pompeo said in the statement.