The U.S. State Department on Wednesday said it was “deeply disturbed” by allegations that women in China’s “re-education” camps for Uighurs were systematically raped, and sexually abused, according to a report.
“These atrocities shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences,” a state department spokeswoman told Reuters.
According to reports last year, up to three million Uighur Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang province have been plucked from their homes since 2017 by authorities and disappeared into a prison camp, which the Chinese government glosses over with the term “re-education” facility.
A protester from the Uighur community in Turkey holds an anti-China placard during a protest in Istanbul on Oct. 1, 2020, against what they allege is oppression by the Chinese government to Muslim Uighurs in the far-western Xinjiang province. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File)
The BBC on Wednesday reported that women in these camps have been systematically raped, sexually abused, and tortured, which prompted the condemnation by the U.S.
“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,” the official added.
The former President Donald Trump’s administration previously imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over its treatment of minorities in the Xinjiang region.
Before he left office last month, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, issued a determination that the Chinese government had committed “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” against Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities.
It appears the current Biden administration will also be tough on Beijing, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January that he agreed “forcing men, women, and children into concentration camps” constituted genocide, reports said.
China denies accusations of abuses in Xinjiang, saying they “are not about ethnicity, religion or human rights, but about anti-violence, anti-terrorism, anti-separatism, and de-radicalization.”
Following the recent accusations, the spokeswoman said China should allow “immediate and independent investigations by international observers,” according to Reuters. The official added that Washington would jointly speak out with allies to condemn the alleged actions by China and “consider all appropriate tools to promote accountability for those responsible and deter future abuses.”
Fox News’ Hollie McKay and Adam Shaw contributed to this report