CHILLING details have emerged of the horrors inflicted at China’s anti-Islam camps where Muslim inmates are forced to eat pork and drink alcohol as punishment for their faith.
Former detainees have described the physical and mental tortures inflicted at the indoctrination camps, where almost one million Muslims have been detained.
AP:Associated Press Omir Bekali cries as he details the psychological stress endured while in a Chinese internment camp
The re-education camps were introduced in China’s western province of Xinjiang as Beijing officials attempt to clamp down on potential separatist movements.
Xinjiang is a large Chinese territory bordering Pakistan and several Central Asian states, including Kazakhstan.
Speaking to the Washington Post, two former detainees have spoken out about the brutality inflicted upon captive Muslims.
AP:Associated Press Omir Bekali talks about the psychological stress he endure at the re-education camp in China
Omir Bekali and Kayrat Samarkand described being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol as punishments – both strictly forbidden in Islam.
They described how they were required on a near-hourly basis to disavow their Islamic beliefs, criticise themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party.
The inmates faced endless brainwashing and humiliation and were forced to study Communist propaganda.
AP:Associated Press Entrance to a jail which locals say is used to hold those undergoing a political indoctrination program
The re-education programme essentially aims to rewire the political thinking of detainees, erase their Islamic beliefs and reshape their identities.
The camps have expanded rapidly over the past year, with almost no judicial process or legal paperwork.
Omir Bekali, an ethnic Kazakh who worked at a tourism company in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, when he was arrested while visiting his parents in the village of Shanshan in March 2017.
He was interrogated for four days and forced to remain awake the entire time, before being imprisoned for seven months.
He was then sent to a re-education camp for 20 days without a trial or access to a lawyer.
His only crime was being a Muslim.
AP:Associated Press The inmates faced endless brainwashing and were forced to study Communist propaganda
When Bekali, 42, refused to follow orders at the camp each day, he would be forced to stand at a wall for five hours at a time.
After a week of not compromising with officials, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours.
Bekali’s punishments at the camp include being hung by his wrists against a barred wall, just high enough so he would feel excruciating pressure in his shoulder unless he stood on the balls of his bare feet.
He was also interrogated him about his work with a tourist agency inviting Chinese to apply for Kazakh tourist visas, which they claimed was a way to help Chinese Muslims escape.
AP:Associated Press A mosque with a banner reading "Love the party, Love the country" in the Kashgar in China's Xinjiang province
Bekali was kept in a locked room almost around the clock with eight other internees, who shared beds and a wretched toilet.
Cameras were installed in toilets and even outhouses and baths were rare, as was washing of hands and feet was equated with Islamic ablution by authorities.
After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, Bekali became suicidal.
Speaking to the Associated Press as he broke down in tears, he said: “The psychological pressure is enormous, when you have to criticise yourself, denounce your thinking – your own ethnic group.
“I still think about it every night, until the sun rises. I can't sleep. The thoughts are with me all the time.”
AP:Associated Press Bekali demonstrates how he was strung up by his arms while in Chinese detention
Fellow detainee Kayrat Samarkand, a Chinese Kazakh from Astana, was detained by police, aggressively interrogated for three days, then dispatched in November to a “re-education camp” in Xinjiang for three months.
He described a similar ordeal to Bekali, where the day was filled with hours of brainwashing and psychological torture.
He said: “Those who disobeyed the rules, refused to be on duty, engaged in fights or were late for studies were placed in handcuffs and ankle cuffs for up to 12 hours.”
AP:Associated Press The US has described the situation as 'the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today'
Samarkand added that any further disobedience would result in waterboarding or long periods strapped in agony in a metal contraption known as a “tiger chair”- a punishment inflicted on him personally.
After three months, Samarkand said he could not take the assaults anymore and smashed his head against a wall in an effort to kill himself.
He merely fell unconscious.
AP:Associated Press After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, Bekali became suicidal
He said: “When I woke up, the staff threatened me, saying if I did that again they would extend my sentence to seven years there.”
China's Xianjing territory is home to around 21 million people, of which at least 11 million are Muslims.
Those detained and sent to re-education camps were predominantly young men.
Beijing’s detention programme has swept across the Xianjing territory in what has been described by the United States as “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today”.
AP:Associated Press Bekali holds up a mobile showing a photo of his parents – he believes have now been detained in China
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