Exhibit in US Capitol illustrates Uyghurs’ plight


Torture and detainees in camps are depicted in Amnesty International exhibit.

Hands on their heads, hundreds of Uyghur men wearing blue prison uniforms and identified by a number on their chest kneel side-by-side, crammed together in rows. They fill a yard, flanked by armed guards and surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and two concrete watchtowers.

The stark illustration by award-winning artist Molly Crabapple portrays Uyghurs inside an internment camp in China.

It is part of a weeklong exhibit organized by Amnesty International in the U.S. Senate’s Rotunda to draw attention to the mass detention, torture and indoctrination of an estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities held in internment camps operated by the Chinese government in the far-western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. 

Other pictures show Chinese government officials removing religious and cultural artifacts from a Muslim home and a steady stream of red buses transporting Uyghurs to an internment camp at night. 

In yet another, a guard raises a baton to strike a camp detainee locked in a tiger chair, a constrictive metal seat that does not allow its victim to move.  

China denies the abuses, saying the camps were vocational training centers meant to prevent terrorism and religious extremism while teaching job skills, and that most have been closed.

The exhibit’s opening reception on Oct. 23 was held in partnership with Congressional-Executive Commission on China Co-chair Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, the Uyghur Human Rights Project, and the Atlantic Council Strategic Litigation Project. 

In his remarks, Merkley criticized China’s treatment of Uyghurs, while camp survivor Tursunay Ziyawudun recalled the torture, rape and other hardships that she and other Uyghur women faced in the camps. Ziyawudun is one of a handful of Uyghurs to have survived a Chinese internment camp and escaped abroad. 

Uyghur human rights activists Omer Kanat, Rayhan Asat and Rushan Abbas also urged international action to end the ongoing Uyghur genocide.

Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.

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