Women detained in Chinese government-run camps in Tibet are “routinely raped” by their guards, Bitter Winter, an online human rights magazine, alleged on Thursday.
“Just like Muslim women in Xinjiang, lay Buddhist girls and nuns are also submitted to systematic rape in Tibet’s transformation through education camps,” the magazine claimed on February 25.
Some of Bitter Winter‘s Tibetan correspondents allegedly told the news site that guards at Tibetan re-education camps use cattle prods “to control and torture inmates, and it is common that they are used to rape women by inserting them in their private parts.”
“[T]his routinely happens to nuns, who are told that their bodies ‘belong to the CCP [Chinese Communist Party]’ rather than to the monasteries,” a Tibetan source told Bitter Winter.
“There is a political reason for this,” the magazine explained. “Once raped, a nun will difficultly be taken back by her monastery, and should settle for a secular life [sic].”
China allegedly forced over 500,000 Tibetans into military-style camps designed to train “rural surplus laborers” into industrial workers in the first half of 2020, according to a study published in September by the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. After completing “vocational training” at the camps, which includes political indoctrination designed by the Chinese Communist Party, Tibetans are transferred to work in factories across China according to the study, which cited Chinese government labor quotas.
Chinese government officials often use the term “vocational training” to refer to state-run detention camps. The CCP has used the term to describe detention facilities in its western territory of Xinjiang, where state officials have allegedly detained one to three million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities since 2017, according to estimates by human rights organizations. Survivors of Xinjiang’s camps have said they were subjected to communist ideological indoctrination, forced labor, physical torture, and sexual abuse.
A BBC report published on February 2 alleged that guards at Xinjiang’s state-run detention camps implement “systematic rape” as a form of torture. The British broadcaster interviewed several people who said they were previously detained in or worked at the camps, some of whom said they witnessed actions similar to those described in Tibet’s forced labor camps by Bitter Winter on Thursday.
“They [the guards] 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,” a woman named Tursunay Ziawudun told the BBC.
“It is impossible to verify Ziawudun’s account completely because of the severe restrictions China places on reporters in the country, but travel documents and immigration records she provided to the BBC corroborate the timeline of her story,” the broadcaster noted.