China: Detainees in Xinjiang camps tortured, beaten and given electric shocks, says Amnesty report
China has created a “dystopian hellscape” in Xinjiang, according to the head of Amnesty International, with people who are detained in camps there routinely tortured.
A comprehensive new report from the organisation, based on interviews with more than 50 former detainees of the camps, details alleged crimes against humanity – including mass imprisonment, torture and persecution – carried out by Chinese authorities against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.
“China must immediately dismantle the internment camps, release the people arbitrarily detained in them and in prisons, and end the systematic attacks against Muslims in Xinjiang,” said Agnes Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International.
The report says that from early 2017, hundreds of thousands – and possibly more than one million people – have been sent to camps in Xinjiang.
China for a long time denied the existence of any camps. It eventually changed tack and now says the camps are voluntary “vocational training centres”, necessary to combat terrorism.
President Xi Jinping has said his government’s policies in the region are “totally correct”.
Each detainee interviewed by Amnesty suffered torture or other ill-treatment, according to the report.
Some were beaten or given electric shocks, or forced to sit in a “tiger chair” – a steel chair with painful restraints.
Detainees told Amnesty they had been tortured multiple times and others said they were forced to watch their cellmates being tortured.
All the detainees interviewed were held for what appears to be “entirely lawful conduct”, including possessing religious-themed pictures or communicating with people abroad.
One interviewee, a government official, said that police took people from their homes without warning and detained them without due process.
Outside the camps, the report described Xinjiang as a “surveillance state”.
Those released from the camps are subject to “near-constant electronic and in-person surveillance”. The population at large is also heavily monitored.
The report calls for the UN to establish “an independent international mechanism” to investigate abuses in Xinjiang.
The Chinese government has previously said that it was discussing a visit by the UN Human Rights commissioner, and that the “door to Xinjiang is always open” but “the aim of the visit is to provide exchanges and cooperation rather than … so-called investigation based on ‘guilty before proven'”.
An independent “people’s tribunal” was held in the UK last week, although it has no legal power. It heard that minorities are treated “worse than dogs” and “tortured day and night”.
Xinjiang is expected to be a topic of discussion at this week’s meeting of G7 leaders. The US administration has said China’s actions amount to genocide.
No other government has followed suit but the parliaments of the UK, Canada and the Netherlands have all voted to declare the human rights abuses as genocide.
Sky News has contacted the Chinese embassy in London for comment.
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