INITIAL ACCOUNTS of the prison-like camps in the Xinjiang region where China has detained 1 million or more ethnic Uighurs described how the inmates were forced to renounce Muslim customs, memorize propaganda songs and learn Chinese. Then more troubling stories reached the West — of beatings, sterilizations of women and forced labor. Now, the BBC has produced a shocking new report about the systematic rape and torture of women in the camps, based on on-the-record accounts of survivors. The reported atrocities underline the need for a coordinated international response to what the United States has rightly called a campaign of genocide.

The BBC story features accounts from four named women, one of whom says she was gang-raped three times while interned for nine months in a Xinjiang camp. Tursunay Ziawudun, who, according to the BBC, fled the country after her release and now lives outside Washington, told the British network that women were removed from cells “every night” and raped by Chinese men wearing masks. Another woman said she was given the job of stripping women and handcuffing them before they were visited by men who, she said, “would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates.”

Ms. Ziawudun said that she and other women were tortured with electric shocks and that an electric prod was inserted into her vagina. That account was backed up by a former language teacher in the camps who said there were “four kinds of electric shock — the chair, the glove, the helmet, and anal rape with a stick.” Another teacher confirmed that rape was common and said she had witnessed the public gang rape of a woman who was forced to make a public confession in front of about 100 detainees, then attacked by several policemen. Those in the crowd of detainees forced to watch the gang rape who “resisted, clenched their fists, closed their eyes, or looked away” were themselves taken away for punishment, the teacher said.

China has done its best to cover up these barbaric practices. Journalists and other international observers are not allowed near the camps, and most inmates are prohibited from leaving the country even after their release. Uighurs exiled in the West who have passed along accounts of the repression have seen their relatives in China imprisoned in retaliation.

International reaction to this attempt to effectively wipe out an ethnic minority has been slowly growing but still falls well short of what it should be. In its final days, the Trump administration declared that the regime of Xi Jinping was committing genocide, and it banned some imports from Xinjiang. The Biden administration’s new secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said that he agrees with the genocide designation. The European Union has offered little more than rhetoric — and some Muslim states have remained silent. They ought to be joining the United States in demanding investigations by the United Nations of the alleged rapes, torture and other abuses.

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