UHRP Welcomes Survivors to the US to Give First-Hand Testimony on Atrocity Crimes Against Women Inside and Outside China’s Concentration Camps

Dulles Uyghur Uzbek Arrival_2023-03-22

March 22, 2023 | 9:00 a.m. EST
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 819-0598, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) welcomes the arrival of two human-rights defenders in the United States as they begin a tour of five U.S. cities. Ms. Gulbahar Haitiwaji, an ethnic Uyghur, and Ms. Qelbinur Sidik, an ethnic Uzbek, will testify before Congress and before a Texas state legislative hearing, and will attend a session of the California State Assembly.

Their testimony will focus on the human-rights crimes suffered by Uyghur, Uzbek and other Turkic women. They will highlight the urgent need for action to rescue survivors who are at risk of deportation to China and, to impose meaningful sanctions on tech companies that are responsible for building the ethnic-profiling surveillance regime, and to stop the flow of international investment to Chinese companies complicit in forced labor and the government’s high-tech tools of genocide.

“We must all pay close attention to the testimony of Gulbahar and Qelbinur, which exposes unspeakable brutality inflicted on women inside and outside the camps. Their testimony demands a heightened response by government and business alike,” said Omer Kanat, UHRP Executive Director. “After enduring horrific abuses, these women represent the pinnacle of strength and courage.”

Ms. Qelbinur Sidik (alternative spelling: Kalbinur), who is of Uzbek ethnicity, was assigned to work as a Chinese language teacher in an internment camp in early 2017 then transferred to an all-women facility in September holding around 10,000 women. She was forced to have an IUD fitted in 2017 and was forced to undergo sterilization in early 2019. She reached safe haven in  the Netherlands at the end of 2019.

Ms. Gulbahar Haitiwaji, was living in France with her family when she urged by Chinese officials to return to the Uyghur region in 2016 to sign pension documents. She was detained shortly after her arrival. After half a year in pre-trial detention she was transferred to a camp where she faced torture and violent interrogation before finally being allowed to return to France in August 2019. Ms. Gulbuhar has written a memoir, How I Survived a Chinese “Re-education” Camp.

Key issues highlighted by their first-hand testimony will include: transnational repression and the urgent need to provide safe haven for refugees and protection from the threat of deportation; the need for the U.S. government should follow the lead of Canada, given the unanimously-adopted motion in Canadian Parliament calling on the Government to resettle 10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in need of protection; and sanctions on the Chinese tech companies enabling the genocide.

Courageous camp survivors have previously testified before Congress in November 2018 and May 2021, and have provided numerous in-depth briefings for officials at the White House and the State Department, including Ms. Mihrigul Tursun, Ms. Tursunay Ziyawudun, Ms. Zumrat Dawut, and Ms. Gulzire Auelkhan. 

UHRP has documented the Chinese government’s brutal assaults on Uyghur women for many years, especially since mass detentions began in 2017. Uyghur, Uzbek, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz women have faced horrific abuses, including forced labor, forced or coerced marriage, sexual violence in the camps and in the “homestay” program, forced or coerced IUD insertions, and forced sterilization—the latter of which the Uyghur Tribunal cited as evidence that the Chinese government has committed genocide.