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The ‘Uighur Tribunal’ has heard harrowing testimonies of alleged rape, torture and forced sterilisations

On Friday, a London panel investigating the plight of Uighurs in China heard witness testimony of torture and gang rapes in a process slammed by Beijing as a mendacious smear.

Witnesses described squalid conditions and brutality in camps in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, with one claiming a woman had died after undergoing forced sterilization. The nine UK-based jurors of the “Uighur Tribunal”, including lawyers and human rights experts, convened the first of two evidence sessions ahead of the intended publication of a report in December on whether China is guilty of genocide.

“Allegations made against the PRC (People’s Republic of China) are grave,” tribunal chair Geoffrey Nice said at the opening of the first four-day session, adding that they included numerous UN Declaration of Human Rights breaches. The tribunal is not affiliated with any government, and China has refused to participate, branding it a “machine producing lies”. Beijing has slapped sanctions on Nice, a former UN war crimes prosecutor, and others involved.

However, lawyers for the tribunal said the US and Australian governments had offered to provide relevant material, complementing thousands of pages of documentary evidence already compiled.

It was set up at the request of the World Uighur Congress, the largest group representing exiled Uighurs. It lobbies the international community to take action against China over alleged abuses in Xinjiang.

But Mr. Nice and his colleagues have vowed that the panel’s work will be “impartial” and led by evidence.

Uighur Tribunal

‘Cannot forget.’

Webinar Sidik, an ethnic-Uzbek teacher from Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, said Communist Party bosses ordered her to teach Chinese in two fetid and crowded “re-education” camps – one male and one female – for Uighurs.

The so-called students were made to wear shackles during hours-long classes; she told the tribunal.

“The police, the guards in the camp, they didn’t see the male prisoners as human beings,” Ms. Sidik said. “They enjoyed watching them being humiliated, and their suffering was for them their joy.”

Uighur teacher Qelbinur Sidik (L) gestures as she speaks on the first day of hearings at the “Uighur Tribunal”.


Female prisoners were allegedly abused when they were taken for interrogation. “They were not only tortured but also raped, sometimes gang-raped,” Ms. Sidik said.

Guards in the camp did not treat the prisoners as human beings. They were treated less than dogs,” she said.

Forced sterilization of Uighur women was standard, and in one instance, a female prisoner died from the process, she added.

Ms. Sidik said she was also subjected to forced sterilization before being given a visa to visit her daughter in the Netherlands and fled China.

“The things that I have witnessed and experienced, I cannot forget even for a day,” she said. “I am a woman myself; I have a daughter. I don’t wish anyone to suffer like that.”

Witness Omir Bekali gives evidence to the Panel of the independent Uighur Tribunal in London Friday, June 4 2021.


The tribunal also heard from Omir Bekali, a Kazakh national with Uighur heritage, who was arrested when visiting family in Xinjiang on a visit from Kazakhstan. At one point in his testimony, he put on chains to show the panel how he had been held in a camp for over seven months.

I was tortured intensely for the first four days and nights,” he said.

“I was hung from the ceiling,” Mr. Bekali explained, adding that he was beaten all over his body and on the soles of his feet. He said his father had been killed, and his brother left disabled following torture. “My father died, and my sister and brother were branded terrorists,” he told the tribunal.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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