Questions You Should be Asking the World Around You
Al Jazeerah, the propaganda outlet of Qatar, has published a remarkable anti-China propaganda piece which echos claims made by dubious CIA affiliated outlets:
Uighurs forced to eat pork as China expands Xinjiang pig farms
Former detainees claim that the forcible feeding of pork is most rampant in re-education camps and detention centres.
It has been more than two years since Sayragul Sautbay was released from a re-education camp in China’s westernmost region of Xinjiang. Yet the mother of two still suffers from nightmares and flashbacks from the “humiliation and violence” she endured while she was detained.
Sautbay, a medical doctor and educator who now lives in Sweden, recently published a book in which she detailed her ordeal, including witnessing beatings, alleged sexual abuse and forced sterilisation.
In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, she shed more light on other indignities to which the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities were subjected, including the consumption of pork, a meat that is strictly prohibited in Islam.
“Every Friday, we were forced to eat pork meat,” Sautbay said. “They have intentionally chosen a day that is holy for the Muslims. And if you reject it, you would get a harsh punishment.”
When I read the above I remembered that I had previously read about Sayragul Sautbay (or Sauytbay). But the story back than had sounded much different. The woman had moved from China under disputed circumstances but had never been a detainee. She had illegally entered Kazakhstan where she was put in front of a court but only got a mild sentence. Sautbay was then granted asylum in Sweden from where she propagandizes for an CIA affiliated Uighur exile group.
Over the years Sautbay has given several interviews. The details of her story continued to change in anti-Chinese directions.
In July 2018 the U.S. government outlet RFE/RL reported from Sautbay’s trial in Kazakhstan:
The trial of an ethnic-Kazakh Chinese citizen accused of illegally entering Kazakhstan has taken on implications far beyond whether she will be reunited with her family near Almaty or deported back to China.
That’s because 41-year-old Sayragul Sauytbay has testified about the existence of a network of “reeducation camps” in western China where she says thousands of ethnic Kazakhs are incarcerated for “political indoctrination.”
Unlike others who’ve fled abroad, saying they’d been forced to endure dehumanizing indoctrination at such camps, Sauytbay was not a camp detainee. She was a camp employee.
Before crossing into Kazakhstan on April 5, Sauytbay had been the head administrator of a kindergarten — a position that, together with her membership of the Communist Party, technically made her a Chinese state official.
She says Chinese authorities had forced her to train “political ideology” instructors for reeducation camps in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
So according to that report Al Jazeerah’s ‘former detainee’ had actually claimed to have been an trainer for “political ideology” instructors for reeducation camps, not a trainer for the detainees.
That, she says, gave her access to secret documents about China’s state program to “reeducate” Muslims from indigenous minority communities across western China — mainly Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, ethnic Kyrgyz, and Hui.
She says she also witnessed the inner workings of the program while employed at a camp for ethnic Kazakhs in the region’s Mongol-Kuro District.
A few days after the RFE/RL story the Globe and Mail published an interview with Sayragul Sauytbay. While the basic story she tells is basically the same some significant details differ:
It was a place of silence, forced learning and fear. It was called a “transformation centre” hidden in the mountains of far western China, bereft of any obvious sign indicating its purpose. But it looked and felt like a jail.
For months, Sayragul Sauytbay worked inside, teaching Mandarin and propaganda to Muslim detainees swept up in a broad Chinese campaign to eradicate what Beijing calls extremism.
Then, facing internment herself, she fled to neighbouring Kazakhstan – where she was arrested after China sought her deportation. But her lawyers argued that she could face torture if returned, and on Wednesday, a Kazakh court declined to send her back, giving her a six-month suspended sentence.
Sautbay tells how she, a party member, was ordered to teach in a camp:
A primary school teacher who became a kindergarten administrator, Ms. Sauytbay was ordered last November to work in a new place. “They said I must go. I think if I refused them, I would have ended up being locked in that re-education centre as well,” she said.
She had been chosen to teach inside the internment camp because she could speak both Kazakh and fluent Mandarin. Often, she was driven to work at night, to a distant place in the mountains of Zhaosu County, on the far western border between China and Kazakhstan. The facility was surrounded by high walls and barbed wire. It looked “very, very scary. Just one glimpse would frighten you,” she said.
Her “access to secret documents” seems to have been more limited than claimed in the RFE/RL piece:
Inside were roughly 2,500 people, all of them Muslim, most of them ethnic Kazakhs. None were Han Chinese, the dominant group in China. “They were all ethnic minorities,” she said, ranging in age from their upper teens to their 70s.
She received no explanation for why they were there, nor the purpose of the instruction she was ordered to deliver.
“They told us nothing,” she said. “Even as a teacher, the knowledge we had about that place was very limited. They had many of their own highly confidential secrets.”
Work in the camp had no fixed schedule, each day a mix of teaching and “special tasks.” The latter might be training students to sing the Chinese national anthem, or Communist standbys such as “Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China.”
Mostly, though, she was told to teach Mandarin.
Back then her description of the conditions in the camp differs a lot from the “made to eat pork” claims in the recent Al Jazeerah piece:
She did not personally see violence, although she did see hunger. Detainees had only three kinds of food: rice soup, vegetable soup and nan bread. “There was no meat. There was never enough to eat. People were malnourished,” Ms. Sauytbay said.
Sautbay’s husband version of the story, published in 2018 as part of a longer Washington Post piece, likewise makes no mention of violence or pork eating:
Sauytbay, who had a government job in education, had her passport seized by local officials, her husband [Uali Islam] said.
In 2016, officials asked for the passports of Sauytbay’s husband and children, and they decided it was time to leave for Kazakhstan. Sauytbay would follow.
“She said, ‘I’m a woman and member of the Communist Party — they won’t do anything to me. Maybe things will settle down and I can join you,’ ” Islam recalled.
In early 2017, she told him, she was informed that she was being transferred to what was described to her as an “education center.” That spring, she arrived to see that it was actually an internment camp housing thousands of Kazakhs.
Sauytbay told her husband the “education” was “all about the party.” Guards locked everyone in a room, blasted propaganda from speakers and made them sing Communist Party songs.
Eventually, Sauytbay fled to Kazakhstan. “She said,” he recalled, “ ‘I came here; I saw my children — now I can die.’ ”
After she had gained asylum in Sweden Sautbay joint up with a U.S. financed Uighur organization. Her story then changed dramatically. The party member and language teacher had became a detainee. There was suddenly extensive violence in the camp and people who earlier never got meat were suddenly made to eat pork. In 2019 she told such horror stories for a Haaretz feature:
Torture – metal nails, fingernails pulled out, electric shocks – takes place in the “black room.” Punishment is a constant. The prisoners are forced to take pills and get injections. It’s for disease prevention, the staff tell them, but in reality they are the human subjects of medical experiments. Many of the inmates suffer from cognitive decline. Some of the men become sterile. Women are routinely raped.
Such is life in China’s reeducation camps, as reported in rare testimony provided by Sayragul Sauytbay (pronounced: Say-ra-gul Saut-bay, as in “bye”), a teacher who escaped from China and was granted asylum in Sweden. Few prisoners have succeeded in getting out of the camps and telling their story. Sauytbay’s testimony is even more extraordinary, because during her incarceration she was compelled to be a teacher in the camp. China wants to market its camps to the world as places of educational programs and vocational retraining, but Sauytbay is one of the few people who can offer credible, firsthand testimony about what really goes on in the camps.
So a year after explicitly claiming to have been an CCP teacher, not a detainee, Sautbay has now morphed in one. Where she earlier saw no violence she now reports of plenty.
The circumstances of the Haaretz interview make it obvious that she is shopped around as part of a propaganda campaign:
I met with Sauytbay three times, once in a meeting arranged by a Swedish Uyghur association and twice, after she agreed to tell her story to Haaretz, in personal interviews that took place in Stockholm and lasted several hours, all together. Sauytbay spoke only Kazakh, and so we communicated via a translator, but it was apparent that she spoke in a credible way.
The Swedish Uyghur association is part of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, a CIA affiliated organization that has in recent years gained prominence as part of the U.S. driven anti-China campaign.
That such an organization organized the interview and that a translator was minding the correctness of the story is enough to let one doubt the credibility of the tale. But then come details that are so far off from her previous claims that one is sure that these are all outright lies:
“In November 2017, I was ordered to report to an address in the city’s suburbs, to leave a message at a phone number I had been given and to wait for the police.” After Sauytbay arrived at the designated place and left the message, four armed men in uniform arrived, again covered her head and bundled her into a vehicle. After an hour’s journey, she arrived in an unfamiliar place that she soon learned was a “reeducation” camp, which would become her prison in the months that followed. She was told she had been brought there in order to teach Chinese and was immediately made to sign a document that set forth her duties and the camp’s rules.
In the earlier stories CCP member Sautbay was “often driven to work at night”, not abducted and forced to stay in the camp for months.
Mindful of her new sponsors Sautbay then contradicts her “no meat” and “no violence” claims from the earlier Globe and Mail interview:
“There were three meals a day. All the meals included watery rice soup or vegetable soup and a small slice of Chinese bread. Meat was served on Fridays, but it was pork.
The camp’s commanders set aside a room for torture, Sauytbay relates, which the inmates dubbed the “black room” because it was forbidden to talk about it explicitly. “There were all kinds of tortures there. Some prisoners were hung on the wall and beaten with electrified truncheons. There were prisoners who were made to sit on a chair of nails. I saw people return from that room covered in blood. Some came back without fingernails.”
On wonders who wrote the script for this laughable “mass rape” scene for her:
Tears stream down Sauytbay’s face when she tells the grimmest story from her time in the camp. “One day, the police told us they were going to check to see whether our reeducation was succeeding, whether we were developing properly. They took 200 inmates outside, men and women, and told one of the women to confess her sins. She stood before us and declared that she had been a bad person, but now that she had learned Chinese she had become a better person. When she was done speaking, the policemen ordered her to disrobe and simply raped her one after the other, in front of everyone. While they were raping her they checked to see how we were reacting. People who turned their head or closed their eyes, and those who looked angry or shocked, were taken away and we never saw them again. It was awful. I will never forget the feeling of helplessness, of not being able to help her. After that happened, it was hard for me to sleep at night.”
She was also pressed to offer bridges for sale …
In March 2020 Secretary of State Mike Pompous and First Lady Melanie Trump ‘honored’ Sayragul Sautbay with the State Department’s International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award:
Sauytbay become one of the first victims in the world to speak publicly about the CCP’s repressive campaign against Muslims, igniting a movement against these abuses. Her testimony was among the first evidence that reached the broader international community of the CCP’s repressive policy, including both the camps and the coercive methods used against Muslim minorities.
At the end of the propaganda onslaught the Haaretz piece closes with an official Chinese comment on Sautbay’s stories:
Asked to respond to Sayragul Sauytbay’s description of her experience, the Chinese Embassy in Sweden wrote to Haaretz that her account is “total lies and malicious smear attacks against China.” Sauytbay, it claimed, “never worked in any vocational education and training center in Xinjiang, and has never been detained before leaving China” – which she did illegally, it added. Furthermore, “Sayragul Sauytbay is suspected of credit fraud in China with unpaid debts [of] about 400,000 RMB” (approximately $46,000).
In Xinjiang in recent years, wrote the embassy, “China has been under serious threats of ethnic separatism, religious extremism and violent terrorism. The vocational education and training centers have been established in accordance with the law to eradicate extremism, which is not ‘prison camp.’” As a result of the centers, according to the Chinese, “there has been no terrorist incident in Xinjiang for more than three years. The vocational education and training work in Xinjiang has won the support of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and positive comments from many countries across the world.”
Given the multitude of inconsistencies in Sautbay’s ever changing stories and the obvious propaganda purpose they have I am inclined to believe the Chinese government’s version.
An erection with words and images by a creation(Kriti)😇
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