Forced Marriage, Mass Sterilisation and Concentration Camps- the first hand account of the Uyghur genocide

By Georgia Allen and Charlotte Griffith from Foundation for Uyghur Freedom

Shining a light on this too long neglected travesty

Nursiman Abdureshid, campaigner and activist. We thank Georgia Allen for permission to use these images

There is a genocide happening now in China and the world needs to wake up and act. Nursiman Abdureshid, a Uyghur refugee living in Istanbul,spoke to Laura Bierer-Nielsen the Director of Foundation for Uyghur Freedom, about the harrowing personal experience she has with  the ‘Chinese Communist Party’, and the threat they pose to Uyghur identity. 

Nursiman talks about why economic sanctions are the only way to stop China’s human rights abuse, and reveals the abhorrent conditions Uyghur Muslims face in Xinjiang’s re-education camps. Nursiman discloses her experience first hand; revealing the anguish of losing her family to re-education camps. On the 18th of June 2017 Nursiman’s daily phone calls with her family in Xinjiang ended. She has not heard from them since and her family home in Xinjiang remains empty. After three years of pleading with the Chinese embassy for information, she was informed that both her brothers and her parents had been taken away to ‘re-education camps.’

 During the interview, Nursiman revealed there are three to five million Uyghur people in concentration camps who are physically and mentally tortured”. Often, Uyghur people are subjected to and ‘preyed upon’ by big businesses that use them for labour. When asking Nursiman why Uyghurs are exposed to these conditions, she spoke of the Chinese Communist Party’s claim that “they may have intentions to act upon terrorism”. A claim which is based upon superstition, and is used by the CCP to maintain political control over the country. In June 2020 Nursiman’s fear became a reality. 

 A call from the Chinese Embassy in Turkey left Nursiman with the knowledge of her family being sentenced collectively, to fifty-two years, and eleven months in prison on the charge of “thought-crimes”, or “pre-crimes”. Nursiman told “The Foundation  for Uyghur Freedom’, it is her belief that her family are in concentration camps because she is studying in Turkey.

Nursiman recounts the horrors of forced marriage between Han Chinese men and Uyghur women. The Chinese Communist Party entices Han Chinese men to Xinjiang with the promise of fully furnished flats and economic incentives, and according to Nursiman- the men are even able to visit a police station and request a Uyghur woman to marry. If she refuses, her family are at threat of being taken to concentration camps.

 Ultimately, Uyghur people are marginalised in China, and Nursiman speaks of her own experience of segregation that she endured. Treated differently became a reoccurring reality for Nursiman, and the Uyghur people who lived alongside Han-Chinese equivalents.

University, Nursiman says, “was where I really noticed the difference” put between Uyghurs and Han-Chinese. Soon, this “difference” was everywhere as Nursiman described the reality for Uyghur’s living in Xinjiang: ID being deeply scrutinised, Government Official jobs such as teaching being simply inaccessible, and “messages of worthlessness” to those who do not speak Chinese. Oppression and segregation permeate every aspect of Uyghurs lives in China- they are treated as second class citizens at best, and criminals at worst.

 Although much of what needs to be done to stop this genocide can only be done by national governments, there an abundance which individuals can do to support those enduring unimaginable treatment. 

     Nursiman spoke of the importance of international organizations actively identifying those individuals and corporations who benefit from Uyghur forced labour. Actions which have already been taken, such as the US government’s bills to stop the use of forced labour, are steps in the right direction but do not go far enough.

      The CCP are expanding concentration camps in the region and forced labour factories continue to operate; demonstrating that the Chinese authorities and international corporations still profit from the exploitation of Uyghurs.

 Nursiman believes that boycotting the brands that benefit from this labour including those that say “Made In China”  is just as important as governmental actions. Brands such as Zara, Uniqlo, Nike, Boohoo and Victoria Secret all need to stop abrogating responsibility and accept their complicity in the Uyghur genocide.

“Economic sanctions are the only way to stop China”

Nursiman Abdureshid.

Nursiman is desperate to highlight to the international community that a human right’s crisis is occurring in Xinjiang. Acts of genocide are being spoken of in the media, but still the Chinese Government continues practise these henious acts; “naming and shaming the Chinese Government is not enough.”

Economic sanctions should now be in place says Narsiman, to act as a firm deterrent.

 Nursiman Abdureshid remains an activist for her family and Uyghur people in Xinjiang. Nursiman advocates for wider understanding of the abhorrent conditions forced upon Uyghurs, and adequate justice for her family in Xinjiang’s concentration camps. More needs to be done to stop international companies participating in Uyghur exploitation, and through public and parliamentary awareness these possibilities can rise to reality. 

Watch the full interview here:


We thank Georgia Allen and Charlotte Griffith from the Foundation for Uyghur Freedom. We are only too happy to be able to provide a platform for highlighting the severe adversity facing the Uyghur people. Peter Donnelly, Editor

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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