Tursenay Ziawudun is a survivor — a survivor of the secretive Chinese camps where over a million Uighur Muslims have been detained, now safely in America she is telling her story, hoping to save others.
“We need everyone to help, not just America,” she told Fox News. “We’re humans, but the way they torture these girls and even boys it’s like we’re animals.”
Tursenay had been living in Kazakstan with her husband but returned to Northwest China for work; she had hoped to become a nurse. One day while walking with her husband, she was just grabbed off a road and thrown into a camp — her only crime was her religion.
For a month, she endured forced re-education — learning about the greatness of China and President Xi Jinping hour after hour, while being told to disown Islam. She was released because of a stomach ulcer.
A few months later, she was summoned back. She thought it would be like the first visit, but instead everything was different. The camps had grown — they were more like a prison. She was bussed in, and the stream of busses was constant; their hair was chopped off.
“First, they stripped off my clothing. Then they tore out my earrings, so my ears were bleeding — but I didn’t feel the pain. I felt worse for one elderly woman, like a grandmother. They stripped everything off her and she kept falling on the ground, and they kept pushing her and pulling her up and she just kept falling down. How could you do that to a mother?”
What came next was worse — nine months of gang rape, violent beatings and torture with cattle prods, she said.
“Any woman under 40 was raped,” Tursenay said. “Every one in the camp experienced this. And of course I did, too. I was also beaten — I was kicked and stamped on — once so much on my private parts that I was bleeding, and I since had to have my ovaries removed.”
About a dozen people were held in each cell, and most nights someone was abused or disappeared, she said. About 10,000 were in her camp. Tursenay says she was aware of forced sterilizations and was given unknown injections every two weeks.
The torture was constant, she says, many of her cellmates were broken and would no longer speak. She said she saw others, including young boys beaten to a pulp.
After nine months of agony, despair and pain, she was released and fled China, with the help of the Uyghur Human Rights Project. She says she can not forgive what was done to her.
“I finally have realized that there’s no such thing as good Chinese, the torture, mental torture and physical torture… they have no hearts,” Tursenay said.
The Chinese government simply says the crackdown is about counterterrorism and deradicalization, but last month the U.S. government called this genocide, and there is growing pressure on other governments to do the same.
Tursenay says she just hopes her story can do something to stop the abuse going on.
The Uygher Human Rights project helped with this report.