A London panel organized by the World Uyghur Congress known as the “Uyghur Tribunal” concluded on Monday with testimony alleging that the Chinese government has perpetrated “compulsory sterilization,” “forced contraception,” and “torture” on ethnic Uyghurs in China’s western Xinjiang region.
The panel met in London from June 4-7 for the first of two evidence sessions or “tribunals” at the request of the World Uyghur Congress. The testimony at the conference will help in drafting a report expected in December 2021 on China’s alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Human rights groups and foreign governments accuse the Chinese government of forcefully detaining up to 3 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, such as Kazakhs and Kyrgyz people, in concentration camps in Xinjiang since 2017. Multiple governments of free countries, including the United States, have accused China of genocide.
Monday’s panel included nine UK-based human rights experts and lawyers but “has no state backing or powers of sanction or enforcement,” according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). “Any judgments issued are nonbinding on any government.”
A 33-year-old Uyghur named Nurisman Abdureshid who has lived in Turkey since 2015 told the panel that Chinese government authorities “forced all Uyghur women in her village in Kashgar [in Xinjiang] … to undergo pregnancy tests and intrauterine device (IUD) checks,” during an undisclosed period of time. Abdureshid said she maintained regular contact with her family in Xinjiang until 2017 and that her sister-in-law told her sometime during or prior to 2017 that she had “aborted twins out of fear of repercussion from authorities for violating the birth policy.”
A 51-year-old Uyghur named Mehmut Tevekkül told the panel that he was detained at a Xinjiang concentration camp twice in 2009 and 2010 because his close relatives were previously detained in 1996 “for being religious.” Uyghurs are predominately Sunni Muslims. Tevekkül alleged that he was physically tortured during his detentions.
“I was put on the tiger chair and they whipped my feet with iron wire,” he said in written testimony, according to the U.S. government-funded RFA, which noted that “Tiger chairs are metal chairs that immobilize suspects during interrogations.”
“There [was] a bolt directly above the tiger chair, and the heat from that bolt [was] unbearable,” Tevekkül wrote.
Qelbinur Sidik, an ethnic Uzbek teacher from Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, told the panel the Chinese Communist Party hired her during an undisclosed time period “to teach Chinese in two fetid and crowded ‘re-education’ camps — one male and one female — for Uyghurs,” according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
She said that female detainees of the camps were “abused when they were taken for interrogation.”
“They were not only tortured but also raped, sometimes gang-raped,” Sidik alleged.
“Forced sterilization of Uyghur women was common,” the Uzbek teacher added, claiming that “in one instance, a female prisoner died from the process.”