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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
25 Mar 2023

NextImg:Select Committee on the CCP Hears Abuse of Uyghurs in China’s ‘Re-Education’ Camps

Two prison camp survivors recounted how Uyghur women were subjected to sterilization, sexual abuse, electric shocks, and brainwashing in China’s “re-education” camps during a hearing held by House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on March 23.

“Genocide is occurring, this time at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the committee chairman, at the start of the hearing.

“The CCP’s genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslims groups is real,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the committee’s ranking member, said at the hearing. “Not only is it going on to this day, it is expanding. It is not too late to confront these atrocities so that the famous saying ‘never again’ can actually become a reality.”

China has used “combating extremism” as a pretext for locking up over 1 million Uyghurs in its far-western region of Xinjiang, where detainees are subjected to forced labor, torture, political indoctrination, forced abortion, and other inhuman treatment in the Chinese internment camps.

In 2021, both the Trump and the Biden administrations formally declared China’s treatment of Uyghurs as “genocide” and “crimes against humanity.” Several countries have followed suit, including Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) speaks during the first hearing on national security and Chinese threats to America held by the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 28, 2023. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

The hearing, Gallagher said, could, at the very minimum, raise awareness.

“The least we can do on this committee is to make sure that in 50 years—when the Xinjiang genocide is remembered as one of the abominations of the 21st century—no corporate executive, no policy maker, no investor, no university president can look their grandchildren in the eye and claim they didn’t know,”  Gallagher said.

One of the two firsthand witnesses to testify at the hearing was Gulbahar Haitiwaji, a Uyghur now living in France.

“I was chained to the bed for 20 days,” Haitiwaji said through a translator during the hearing, recalling how she was punished in 2017.

Haitiwaji, living in France, was lured back to China in late 2016 to take care of her retirement pension.

She was held in two different education camps for over two years before she returned to France in August 2019, with the help of the French government and her daughter’s campaigning.

While incarcerated, Haitiwaji recalled she was forced to sit on a restraining device called the “tiger chair” while being interrogated. Also, she said she was subjected to “brainwashing education” for 11 hours a day and was tested on what she learned at the end of each week.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping attends the opening of the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress in Beijing on March 5, 2023. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

“We have to learn songs that praising [sic] Chinese Communist Party and the government,” Haitiwaji said. “Before eating, we have to praise … we are very grateful for China’s Communist Party, and we are grateful for [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping, and after [sic] finish eating, we have to praise them and thank them.”

Uyghurs in these camps are forbidden from speaking their native language, Haitiwaji added, and women like her are given sterilization shots.

Upon returning to France, Haitiwaji published her experiences in the Chinese camps in her book “How I Survived a Chinese ‘Re-Education’ Camp” in January 2021.

“After my book [was] published, China’s government accused me, [saying] that ‘I am a terrorist,’” Haitiwaji said. “Since then, I [have] lost contact with my family.”

Qelbinur Sidik, a member of China’s ethnic Uzbeck minority, was a Chinese-language teacher by trade. In 2017, she was assigned to a new position, and it was not until she arrived at her job that she realized that her students were Uyghurs at a concentration camp guarded by military police with rifles.

“For each meal, they eat one Chinese bun and water, and even going for [sic] toilet is monitored,” Sidik said through a translator. During her six-month teaching there, she said none of her students had a shower.

Her students would also be called from her classroom for interrogation, Sidik said, and she would hear “horrible screaming from torture” because the interrogation rooms were nearby.

“There are four types of torturing methods,” Sidik said. “One is electric baton, [and the others are the] electric helmet, electric glove, and a tiger chair.”

Sidik said her students who were being tortured would miss her classes for weeks or months.

Qelbinur Sidik, a member of China’s ethnic Uzbek minority forced to teach Chinese in separate detention facilities for Uyghur men and women, holds up images as she testifies during a special House committee hearing on the CCP on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 23, 2023. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

Female prisoners were given unknown medicine every Monday, Sidik said, and their period would stop after taking the drug.

“Even some women who were breastfeeding the babies, the breast milk will stop after taking that medicine,” Sidik said.

Sidik added that guards at the camp were raping female prisoners and even inserting electric batons into their private parts to rape and torture them. She recalled witnessing the death of a girl aged between 18 and 20, who died from bleeding nonstop for two months.

Eventually, Sidik left her job and escaped to the Netherlands, where she lives now. However, her husband, a Uyghur, remains in China.

After she went public with her experiences in the camp, she said she received threats from Chinese police, who contacted her using the social media accounts belonging to her sister and husband.

“I [have] lost contact with my family members, including my husband. I’m not sure whether my husband is still alive or not,” Sidik said.

Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), a select committee member, spoke at the hearing about how he was disturbed by the CCP’s practice of forced organ harvesting. He pointed to the transplantation data in the United States and questioned why waiting times for organs in China are so much shorter.

There are more than 104,000 patients on the national transplant waiting list, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The large number exists despite nearly 43,000 transplants last year, a new annual record and an increase of 3.7 percent over 2021.

“So how is it that in China, wait times for hearts and lungs are significantly shorter than in other countries?” Dunn said. Articles suggest that patients are even given their surgery dates well in advance.

“This seemingly unlimited supply of organs tells us—organs are harvested on demand.”

Legal counsel to the Independent Tribunal Into Forced Organ Harvesting In China Hamid Sabi (L) and Chair to the tribunal Sir Geoffrey Nice QC on the first day of public hearings in London on Dec. 8, 2018. (Justin Palmer)

As evidence, Dunn presented findings gathered by the Independent Tribunal Into Forced Organ Harvesting In China, an independent people’s tribunal chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who previously led the prosecution of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal.

“The Tribunal’s members are certain—unanimously, and sure beyond reasonable doubt—that in China forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practiced for a substantial period of time involving a very substantial number of victims,” Dunn said, quoting from the tribunal’s 2018 interim judgment (pdf).

The judgment also concluded that the Chinese regime had been harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience for years “on a significant scale,” with Falun Gong practitioners being the primary source of the donor organs.

Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice consisting of meditative exercises and moral teachings. By 1999, seven years after the practice was introduced to the public, there were 70 million to 100 million adherents in China, according to estimates.

Seeing the practice’s popularity as a threat to its rule, the Chinese regime launched a brutal campaign to persecute Falun Gong practitioners in July 1999 to eradicate the practice, targeting innocents in a violent, deadly suppression that experts have described as genocide.

Falun Gong practitioners march to raise awareness about the Chinese regime’s brutal persecution of the spiritual practice, including forced organ harvesting, in New York on May 13, 2022. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

The China Tribunal presented its full judgment in March 2020, detailing a range of evidence to support its conclusion that the state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting continues unabated in China. It pointed out that imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghurs were subjected to widespread blood tests and other medical tests, but other prisoners were not tested.

While the Tribunal could not draw a definitive conclusion that imprisoned Uyhgurs were also victims of forced organ harvesting, it said that “the vulnerability of the Uyghurs to being used as a bank of organs is … obvious.”

One of the witnesses at the hearing, Adrian Zenz, senior fellow and director in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, told lawmakers that Chinese transplant doctors had removed the prisoners’ organs while they were still alive and killed them in the process when answering a question from select committee member Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.).

“My colleague at Victims of Communism, Matthew Robertson, has published a paper in America’s leading transplant journal examining over 100,000 Chinese academic research papers and closely looking at 2,800 of them,” Zenz said.

“And in 71 Chinese research papers, he found in the text evidence that basically, the donor rule was not observed, meaning that several of the persons in question were executed through organ extraction.”

The paper, published in the American Journal of Transplantation in April 2022, found instances of Chinese transplant doctors breaking the “dead donor rule,” which states that organ donors must be dead before procurement of organs begins, and organ procurement must not cause the death of the donor.

In other words, Chinese doctors began removing organs from death-row prisoners and prisoners of conscience before they were diagnosed correctly as brain dead, which is a precondition to organ extraction, according to the paper.

“We found that the physicians became the executioners on behalf of the state and that the method of execution was heart removal,” Robertson said in a statement about his study, co-authored with Israeli cardiac transplantation surgeon Jacob Lavee. “These surgeries are highly profitable for the doctors and hospitals that engage in them.”

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After hearing Zenz’s remarks, Giménez expressed concerns about a future dominated by the CCP.

“I find the Chinese Communist Party not only repressive and brutal, it’s also barbaric,” Giménez said. “And if we don’t do something about it, and we don’t stop this, then my fear is that my children and my grandchildren will one day face a world where they’re going to be dominated by this party.”