The United States has demanded, “serious consequences” over reports of systematic rape and torture of women taking place inside China’s camps for the Uighur Muslim minority.
The US state department said that it was “deeply disturbed” by the “atrocities”. It was responding to a BBC article based on interviews with former detainees and a guard. On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry strongly denied the “false report”. It detailed allegations of mass rape, sexual abuse, and torture.
A US state department spokesman said, “we are deeply disturbed by reports, including first-hand testimony, of systematic rape and sexual abuse against women in internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang”. “These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences.”
Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne also commented on the report, saying the United Nations should be given “immediate” access to the region. “We consider transparency to be of utmost importance and continue to urge China to allow international observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, to be given immediate, meaningful, and unfettered access to Xinjiang at the earliest opportunity,” she said.
Human rights groups say the Chinese government has gradually stripped away the religious and other freedoms of the Uighurs, culminating in an oppressive system of mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination, and even forced sterilization. China has consistently denied allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and said the camps were not detention camps, but “vocational education and training centers”. On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin accused the BBC of making a “false report” that was “wholly without factual basis”.