The coverage of one of China’s worst human rights abuses the mass detainment of over a million Muslim Uighurs in northwest Xinjiang has increased over the past year.
According a report by Radio Free Asia released in November, a forced-living arrangement between Han Chinese men and Uighur Muslim women that’s been likened to “mass rape” has been implemented in the northwest region.
The outlet reported that traditional Han Chinese men had been assigned to monitor the homes of Uighur women whose husbands had been detained in prison camps.
The reports came out after an anonymous Chinese official gave an interview with Radio Free Asia, confirming the program but denying there was anything sinister about it. As part of the “Pair Up and Become Family” programme, Han Chinese men stay with and sleep in the same beds as Uighur women.
Uighur activist, Rushan Abbas, whose family members have been detained in the Xinjiang camps for more than a year, said it’s nothing more than systemised rape a part of the Chinese government’s brutal ongoing crackdown against the country’s ethnic minority.
“This is mass rape,” she told news.com.au. “The Government is offering money, housing and jobs to Han people to come and marry Uighur people.
“Neither the girls nor their families can reject such a marriage because they will be viewed (by Chinese authorities) as Islamic extremists for not wanting to marry atheist Han Chinese. They have no choice but to marry them.
“(The Han Chinese) have been raping Uighur women in the name of marriage for years. It took more than a year for the media to pick that up.”
The Chinese Government claims the program is about promoting unity but also allows officials to keep a close eye on the Uighurs who have spent decades living under increased surveillance.
Human rights organisations have slammed the program, saying there is “no evidence that families can refuse such visits” and describing it as “deeply invasive forced assimilation practices”.
Last month, an anonymous Chinese official told Radio Free Asia the purpose of the program was to “help the families with their ideology, bringing new ideas … they talk to them about life, during which time they develop feelings for one another”.
“Normally one or two people sleep in one bed, and if the weather is cold, three people sleep together,” he said, adding “it is now considered normal for females to sleep on the same platform with their paired male ‘relatives'”.
They claimed the men and their female hosts sleep at least a metre apart at all times and that male Communist Party officials have never tried to take advantage of women.
Abbas says this is all lies. “Tons of pregnancies are coming up,” she said. “Tons of forced abortions. This is mass rape disguised as ‘marriage’. Uighur girls are forced to marry Han Chinese men with government gratifications.”
The hostility towards the Uighur people stems back decades but has increased sharply in recent years. Abbas has long spoken out against the human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
In September last year, she spoke about the conditions in the camps while seated on a panel hosted by a Washington think tank. Six days later, her aunt and sister both disappeared at the same time despite living 1400 kilometres away from each other.
The camps in Xinijang are given various names in the media. Some refer to them as “mass internment camps”. Others call them “surveillance facilities”, “re-education camps” or simply “detention centres”.
Abbas repeatedly refers to them as “concentration camps” and warned if the Western world doesn’t intervene the mass detention will turn into mass murder.
“Our children are unable to speak our language and understand our culture. They are taken to state-run orphanages and are completely indoctrinated. I’m afraid this will turn into mass extermination.
“There’s nothing better to describe what’s happening in Xinjiang than concentration camps. What are we waiting for? Mass executions and gas chambers before we take action?” she asked.