Amnesty International has gathered new evidence of human rights violations in the Xinjiang region of China, which it says has become a “dystopian hell-landscape” for hundreds of thousands of Muslims subjected to mass detention and torture.
The human rights organization has amassed more than 50 new accounts from Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities who claim to have been subjected to mass detention and torture in police stations and camps in the region.
Evidence from former detainees included in a new report released Thursday claims the use of “tiger chairs”
The report also claims that beating, insomnia and overcrowding are common in police stations. Uyghur Muslims, who were often arrested for what appeared to be lawful behavior, also reported being hooded and handcuffed during interrogation and transfer.
In the camps, detainees had no privacy or autonomy and were subjected to harsh punishment for trivial disobedience, the report claims. Amnesty says it is aware of a case in which a detainee is believed to have died as a result of being detained in a tiger chair in front of his cellmates for 72 hours.
In the early weeks of being in the camps, interviewees told Amnesty researchers that they were forced to sit still or kneel in the same position in their cell for hours. They say they were not allowed to practice Islam and forbade the use of their mother tongue. They also claim that they were forced to attend classes where they studied Mandarin and Chinese Communist Party propaganda.
Aside from being escorted under armed guard to and from canteens, classes or interrogations, prisoners almost never left their cells and so rarely had sunlight or had access to the outdoors and exercise, the report added.
“The Chinese authorities have created a dystopian hellish landscape on a dizzying scale in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
“It should shock the human conscience that masses of people have been subjected to brainwashing, torture and other degrading treatment in detention camps, while millions more are living in fear in the midst of a large surveillance apparatus.”
Amnesty calls for the closure of all camps housing Muslim and ethnic minorities throughout Xinjiang Province, and for the UN to investigate and hold accountable those suspected of crimes under international law.
China has consistently denied all allegations of wrongdoing in Xinjiang, saying the camps were designed to offer Chinese language teaching and job support as well as to combat religious extremism.
It is campaigning to discredit prosecutors, deny allegations and findings, and promote Xinjiang as a “wonderful country.” It denies journalists and human rights groups free access to the area and dismisses investigation results as lies.
The report adds increasing pressure on the Chinese authorities and comes after British MPs adopted a movement in April declaring China committing genocide on the Uyghur people and other minorities in Xinjiang.