Zumrat Dawut, a Uyghur woman who endured two months in a Chinese concentration camp, told Breitbart News in an interview Monday that she witnessed Communist Party officers torture and disappear people who refused to accept dictator Xi Jinping as their god.
Dawut escaped China’s western Xinjiang region, which Uyghurs refer to as East Turkestan, in 2019 and relocated with her Pakistani husband and their children to Virginia. Prior to her escape, however — forwhich she credits her husband’s non-Chinese citizenship — police forced her into one of the over 1,200 concentration camps established throughout East Turkestan for Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz people, and other Muslim ethnic minorities. Dawut has testified repeatedly to her experience in that camp despite stating that Communist Party authorities forced her to vow to renounce Islam and never speak of her time in the camp again.
Her previous testimonies, including to a wide variety of Western media organizations and the United Nations, are consistent with the experiences she shared with Breitbart News this week. Her story caught the attention of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who shared it in remarks at the Vatican in 2019.
The Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly referred to Dawut as an “actor,” without evidence, and claims that her allegation of being forcibly sterilized is not true because she signed a consent form. Dawut has repeatedly stated, and said Monday, that she did not feel it was safe or possible for her not to consent to the procedure.
Communist Party officials have also forced her brothers, still in Xinjiang, to give interviews to state propaganda outlets denouncing their sister as a liar. Extensive evidence exists that Beijing routinely uses the relatives of Uyghurs abroad in attempts to silence those who do not live immediately under communist control.
Dawut recalled her time in a Chinese concentration camp during an interview in Washington, D.C., at an event to mark the anniversary of the Communist Party massacre of Uyghurs in Urumqi, the capital of East Turkestan, on June 5, 2009.
“It’s not like a normal prison. They use unknown medicines to inject people; there’s a lot of unbelievable torture in that place,” Dawut told Breitbart News through a translator in her native Uyghur language. “I was there for 62 days and I was preparing for death at every moment. I was preparing to be killed at every time.”
“They [the prisoners] were studying Xi Jinping Thought and prayed for Xi Jinping,” Dawut narrated, referring to Xi Jinping’s personal philosophy, formally known as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” Xi has forced Chinese universities to make “Xi Jinping Thought” part of their mandatory curricula and enshrined his name in the Chinese Constitution in 2017. This year, China debuted a car application that indoctrinates passengers in Xi Jinping Thought as they travel. Multiple testimonies from former concentration camp prisoners align with Dawut’s testimony that authorities force prisoners to learn and memorize “Xi Jinping Thought,” torturing those who do not learn quickly enough.
The Chinese Communist Party does not deny that concentration camp victims learn “Xi Jinping Thought.” It asserts, however, that the concentration camps are “vocational training centers” for underprivileged ethnic minorities and that only uneducated, unskilled workers are matriculated into classes to learn job skills, like a clear understanding of communism, necessary in the Chinese market.
Dawut denied the camps were vocational training centers in remarks to Breitbart News.
“They arrested the lawyers, doctors, the intelligent people, the elites of Uyghur society — it’s not just those… who had no skills to work,” she said.
The Chinese Communist Party is nominally an atheist organization, but Dawut said that she witnessed attempts to indoctrinate the prisoners, most of them Muslims, into replacing Allah with Xi Jinping.
“The people are asked if there is a god, and do you believe in God?” she explained. “If they say yes, they will kill them. They are asked, do you believe in Xi Jinping or God? And the ones who say ‘Xi Jinping’ live.”
“I witnessed them torture a person for saying ‘I believe in God, not Xi Jinping,’” she added. “They then took the person and we never saw them again.”
Under Xi, the Communist Party has engaged in a years-long campaign to eradicate religion. Officials refer to the process as “Sinicization,” or making religion more “Chinese.” Sinicization requires religions to accept the full control of the Party over their activities, from the ordination of clergy to the drafting of sermons. China only permits five legal religions, all Party-controlled: Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Catholicism (as a separate entity from Christianity), and Taoism.
In 2017, Communist Party officials began pressuring rural Christians to hide images of Jesus and crosses in their private homes, or replace them entirely with large photos of Xi Jinping. Tibetan Buddhists reported similar intimidation tactics in 2019 used to force them to hang photos of Xi Jinping in their homes where religious imagery or images of the Dalai Lama, a longtime enemy of the Chinese government, would be.
Like many others who have escaped the concentration camp system, Dawut also told Breitbart News that she experienced DNA testing and other bizarre medical procedures she believes were preparation for live organ harvesting and that she was forcibly sterilized. She shared that she is scheduled to have surgery in September on her internal reproductive organs as a result of damage done by a sterilization procedure she agreed to under duress prior to leaving China.
She noted that doctors in the concentration camps pumped unknown medications into her and the other prisoners, making it difficult for her to understand what her body has been through to maintain proper health.
Asked what she would say to President Joe Biden if given the chance to speak to him, Dawut emphasized independence for East Turkestan from the Communist Party, dominated by the ethnic Han Chinese majority.
“We can’t live with them anymore,” Dawut said. “We’ve suffered a lot. They have only one goal: to eliminate us. Genocide.”