US 'deeply disturbed' at reports of Uighur mass rape
"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," a US State Department spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
The spokeswoman claimed China has committed "crimes against humanity and genocide" in Xinjiang adding that "these atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences".
She urged that China should allow "immediate and independent investigations by international observers” into the rape allegations "in addition to the other atrocities being committed in Xinjiang".
The official did not specify what the consequences might be, but said Washington would speak out jointly with allies to condemn the atrocities and "consider all appropriate tools to promote accountability for those responsible and deter future abuses".
First-hand accounts of abuses
The disturbing BBC report consists of first-hand accounts of several former detainees and a guard, who told the British-based broadcaster that they either "experienced or saw evidence of an organised system of mass rape, sexual abused and torture".
Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled Xinjian and now lives in the US, told the BBC that Chinese men in masks removed Uighur women from their camp cells "every night".
Gulzira Auelkhan, a Kazakh woman from Xinjiang who said she was detained for 18 months in the camp system, described being forced to assist guards - through removing the clothes of Uighur women and handcuffing them - or face punishment.
The report documents testimony of electrocution as a method to torture women, as well as beating and food deprivation in instances where women failed to memorise passages from books glorifying Chinese President Xi Jinping.
While the report's allegations, some of whose details are too distressing for The New Arab, but they paint a harrowing picture of the plight of Uighur women in the internment camps.
Beijing claims the camps are for the "re-education" of Uighurs and other minorities and to combat separatism and extremism. It strongly denies allegations of abuse.
Asked by Reuters on Wednesday about the BBC report, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said it was "without factual basis".
The US says that China's actions in the province amount to genocide.
Rights groups say that at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims have been incarcerated in Xinjiang's camps.
Mounting evidence shows that people have been subjected to forced sterilisation and forced labour as part of an assimilation campaign in the region, whose inhabitants are ethnically and culturally distinct from the Han majority.