The nine months felt like a lifetime, Tursunay Ziawudun remembered. Like most women, the nightmares from the camps still haunt her. Even in the United States, she can't escape the sound of the guards' footsteps, walking to her cell after midnight to take women to the "black rooms" where they would be raped -- over and over again. "Perhaps this is the most unforgettable scar on me forever," she said with a blank stare. "I don't even want these words to spill from my mouth."
Like other Uyghurs, her description of what happens behind the walls of the Xinjiang prisons defies imagination. Gulzira Auelkhan told stunned reporters that during her 18 months in China's camps, she was forced to strip the female prisoners naked and handcuff them. "Then I would leave the women in the room and a man would enter -- some Chinese man from outside or policeman. I sat silently next to the door..." Afterwards, she cleaned the rooms and took the shaking victims to the showers.
Adrian Zenz, one of the leading experts on China's Uyghur persecution, says these latest stories are some of the worst he's ever heard. It should confirm to everyone that these atrocities are real, he argues, and must be stopped. "It provides authoritative and detailed evidence of sexual abuse and torture at a level clearly greater than what we had assumed."
Former President Trump and his team at the State Department took the violence seriously, labeling it genocide against the Uyghur people before they left office. Since then, the Biden administration has muddled its response, refusing to take a clear line against China on the abuses of millions of religious minorities. His mixed signals will be harder to defend now, as more countries ramp up their pressure on the communist country.
Just this week, the Canadian parliament piled on, joining the United States with their own resolution calling China's treatment of the Uyghurs "genocide." The designation puts liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an uncomfortable position, since he's been very reluctant to condemn China's government. Last week, he made some flimsy excuse that he wants to make sure "all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed" before making any sweeping declarations about what's happening behind Xinjiang's razor-wire fences. Like other weak-kneed politicians, he'd rather hide behind an "international investigation" -- something Biden might have done if former Secretary Mike Pompeo hadn't already declared it genocide.
In Canada's case, the vote was unanimous -- 266-0, with Trudeau's cabinet abstaining. "The international community in general... takes very, very seriously the label of genocide and needs to ensure that when it is used, it is clearly and properly justified," Trudeau said last week. As part of the resolution, Canada's parliament also called on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Games out of Beijing.
Erin O'Toole, Canada's Conservative Party leader, argued that it's time for world leaders to work with allies like America to demand an end to the abuse. "There is real suffering going on in China. There is genocide happening. Our values are not for sale, and Mr. Trudeau needed to send that message today... [H]e failed."
Confronting China is going to require the leadership of several countries -- starting with the United States. So far, Biden hasn't had the stomach to confront challenge China. Let's hope for the sake of millions of innocent women and girls that he changes his mind -- and soon.