An annual U.S. State Department report on human rights violations concludes that China’s genocide and crimes against humanity committed against the country’s Uyghur Muslim population continued throughout all of 2022.
The State Department considers China “an authoritarian state” and says in the 87-page report that transgressions against Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region included:
- the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians
- forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of the country’s birth control policies rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence
- torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained
- persecution including forced labor and draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement
- Officials also say that Chinese authorities have engaged in unlawful killings, torture, forced disappearances, as well as harsh and life-threatening prison and detention centers against the country’s Uyghur population.
The Chinese government has consistently denied assertions that human rights abuses are taking place in Xinjiang.
State Department officials say that the abuses also included attacks against journalists who published information or views that challenged the government.
“Journalists reported being subjected to physical attack, harassment, monitoring, and intimidation when reporting on sensitive topics. Government officials used criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits, and other punishment, including violence, detention, and other forms of harassment, to intimidate authors and journalists and to prevent the dissemination of unsanctioned information on a wide range of topics,” the report notes.
“Family members of journalists based overseas also faced harassment, and in some cases detention, as retaliation for the reporting of their relatives abroad,” officials added. “Dozens of Uyghur relatives of overseas-based journalists working for RFA’s Uyghur Service remained disappeared or detained in Xinjiang.”
The U.S. is not the only nation to denounce China’s human rights abuses in recent years.
In 2021, the British House of Commons passed a resolution condemning “mass human rights abuses and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.”
The same year, Canada and The Netherlands passed similar resolutions.
Days after the State Department report was released, survivors of China’s concentration camps issued a statement, saying they have an obligation to speak up.
“There are only a small number of eyewitnesses like us, who have escaped and can speak freely, but the scale of suffering is almost too vast for people to imagine,” they said.
The survivors stated that at one point, Chinese authorities had detained between 2 to 3 million people.
“We know firsthand that female detainees are subjected to rape by male officers, who eagerly volunteer to work in female camps,” they said. “These individuals brag to each other about the women they rape and the unspeakable sexual violence they perpetrate.”
The survivors added, “It’s impossible to reach any other conclusion than the Chinese government plans to eliminate the Uyghurs’ existence as a distinct ethnic group.”