Chinese officials at a press conference on Wednesday once again claimed all survivors of the nation’s concentration camp system who have testified to enduring atrocities there are hired actors, accusing one woman in particular of lying about being forcibly sterilized and claiming she had always been infertile.
Extensive documentation and reporting have revealed a network of over 1,000 concentration camps throughout the western Xinjiang region of China, home to the majority of the nation’s Uyghur ethnic minority and several other majority-Muslim communities. For at least three years, Chinese Communist Party officials have admitted to the existence of the camps, but claim that they are “vocational training centers” necessary to help impoverished Uyghurs avoid being recruited into jihad. In reality, the small number of victims who have escaped have testified to communist indoctrination, slavery, and extreme torture, including nightly gang rapes and rape using electric torture devices.
The latest installment in China’s ongoing efforts to discredit the mounting evidence that it is committing genocide against ethnic minorities, Xinjiang officials organized a press conference trotting out individuals who allegedly also endured the concentration camps, but claim to be grateful for the experience. An official at the event insisted that every report over the last three years accusing China of genocide against the Uyghur people was “sheer nonsense.”
The officials at the press conference took the opportunity to especially attack a woman named Tursunay Ziawudun who told the BBC in a report published last week that Chinese Communist Party officers electrocuted her vaginally as a form of torture and that doctors sterilized her by force prior to her escape from the camp.
“The woman took me to the room next to where the other girl had been taken in. They had an electric stick, I didn’t know what it was, and it was pushed inside my genital tract, torturing me with an electric shock,” Ziawudun said in the BBC report. “They don’t only rape but also bite all over your body, you don’t know if they are human or animal … They didn’t spare any part of the body, they bit everywhere leaving horrible marks. It was disgusting to look at.”
One of the officials at Wednesday’s press conference, Xu Guixiang, claimed that Ziawudun was notoriously infertile before being forced into the concentration camp and that all her allegations were lies.
“Tursunay never underwent ‘forced sterilization’ – all her family members know that she is inherently infertile,” Xu claimed.
The Global Times quoted Xu as saying that Ziawudun lost her first husband “due to her infertility” and had lied about having a daughter.
“Tursunay has shamelessly fabricated her so-called experiences at vocational education and training centers many times. This time she has repeated her same old tricks but the facts are huge slaps in her face,” Xu alleged.
Xu did not offer any evidence for this allegation, like a medical record showing her infertility or testimony from her alleged ex-husband. The Global Times also did not mention Xu making any effort to show evidence that her testimony about her rape and torture in the concentration camp was false.
Prior to this attack, the Chinese government had openly boasted of measures to limit births in Xinjiang, claiming it a feminist victory that liberated Uyghur women from being “baby-making machines.”
The attack on Ziawudun for testifying to the horrors she witnessed is the latest in a wave of such attacks against those accusing the Communist Party of genocide. In 2019, the Party railed against a woman named Mihrigul Tursun who, like Ziawudun, testified to being electrocuted in the concentration camp system and alleges that the Chinese government killed one of her triplet infants while in the facility. A Communist Party official accused Tursun of carrying “syphilis and other infectious diseases” as a way of discrediting her testimony without addressing her allegations.
On Wednesday, Xu later attempted to discredit the BBC by claiming that the news agency interviewed concentration camp victims without the permission of the Communist Party.
“This has seriously deviated from the professional ethics of journalism, fully exposed the BBC’s malicious intentions to discredit Xinjiang for political purposes, and also destroyed the BBC’s reputation as an internationally renowned media outlet,” Xu claimed.
Also at the press conference were alleged concentration camp survivors who claimed the Communist Party treated them fairly and that they were able to have children after their stay there. One woman showed a photo of a toddler, claiming her to be her daughter. The Global Times did not indicate that the woman was related to the child nor any documentation showing that the woman had spent time in a concentration camp.
The most recent estimates from the U.S. government, which has deemed the events transpiring in Xinjiang a “genocide,” suggest that about 2 million remain trapped in China’s concentration camp system, down about 1 million people from its peak. Many of those no longer there are believed to have been sold as slaves to factories throughout the country. A study published in March 2020 by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) revealed that at the Chinese Communist Party was openly advertising the sale of Uyghur people online to be used as slaves in factories nationwide, offering companies financial incentives for using them. The study tied Uyghur slave labor to 83 international companies, including household names like Nike and BMW.