Testimonies of Xinjiang 'mass rape victim' proven to be full of loopholes
The only source behind several Western media outlets' sensational reports accusing China of "implanting female detainees with contraceptive IUDs" in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has been found to have provided self-contradictory testimonies over the past years, while her claim of "mass rape" in local training centres has been dismissed by those who had previously studied and lived there.
On February 18, Tursunay Ziawudun, a so-called victim who claimed to have been gang-raped in a training center in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region told CNN that she was "kicked and beaten by guards until she blacked out," and was also "gang raped". She further said that the local authorities had also implanted Uygur women in the training centres with contraceptive IUDs.
This is not the first time Tursunay has made such heart-wrenching and sensational accusations against China's Xinjiang policies. On February 2, in an interview with BBC, she told the same story she shared with CNN, without solid evidence to back up her claims.
Ironically, the stories Tursunay recently shared with Western media are quite different from her previous interviews. Tursunay first spoke to the media in October, 2019 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. At no point in the interview with Radio Free Asia, one of the US government’s overseas broadcasting agencies, did she make any direct claim that she had ever been raped. On February 15, 2020, she told BuzzFeed News in another interview that she was terrified she might be raped, while she "wasn't beaten or abused."
The details of Tursunay's testimonies with different media outlets at different times are inconsistent and full of loopholes. For instance, Tursunay told BBC that her earrings were "yanked out" which caused her ears to bleed, but in her 2020 interview with Buzzfeed News, she said "police told the women to take off their necklaces and earrings."
Both CNN and BBC have admitted that Tursunay's claims are difficult to verify, while the main evidence they have been able to provide are her identification and immigration records.
Unlike Western media outlets, which accepted most of Tursunay's stories without further evidence and facts, the Xinjiang authorities have provided abundant information about Tursunay, pointing out she is nothing more than a liar.
At a press conference by Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region authorities on Xinjiang-related issues held in Beijing on February 10, Xu Guixiang, the Deputy Director-General of the Publicity Department of the Communist Part of China Xinjiang Autonomous Regional Committee, revealed some background information on Tursunay, adding that her real name is Tursunay Zinavdin, she is 43 years old, and her accusations against Xinjiang are groundless.
"Tursunay lied that women in the vocational education and training centers had to either accept sterilisation or take menstruation terminating pills, and also claimed that the tubal legation she was forced to have was conducted in an irreversible manner, but all her relatives know that she is infertile, and the truth is she has never undergone contraception," noted Xu.
In addition, it was revealed that Tursunay has been married twice: The first one ended in divorce with her ex-husband Tursunjan Ahmetjan because of her infertility. She has had no child with her present husband either. Her so called "biological daughter" in Kazakhstan is the daughter of her current husband's niece, and people like her do not need "forced sterilization".
Tursunay's stories of "mass rape" and "forced sterilisation" have also been dismissed by female trainees who have graduated from vocational education and training centers across Xinjiang, with many accusing media outlets like BBC and Tursunay of telling lies and ruining Uygur trainees' reputations.
During the press conference, Zaynura Namatqari, a trainee who graduated from the vocational education and training center in Shufu County, told the public that "all the rights of the female trainees were fully guaranteed".
"I solemnly state that no female trainee has been sexually abused in the vocational education and training center. The BBC talked nonsense and fabricated bullshit. All the female trainees were irritated. We want to tell those rumor mongers in the BBC that if you continue to humiliate us female trainees, we will hold you accountable through legal channels. We will protect our reputation," she said.
Mihrensa Qari, a graduate of the Kashgar vocational education and training center, said that Tursunay lied about female trainees being forced to inject unknown drugs or implant contraception rings while at the vocational education and training centers.
"This kind of news made me very indignant! I have two children now. According to the national law, I am entitled to have one more child. My roommate Gulbar Amat got married as soon as she graduated from the vocational education and training center, and she gave birth to a lovely girl last year," she said.
"She and her husband plan to have more children when her daughter grows up. Some people abroad talk nonsense all day, and are as annoying as flies to us," she added.
During her interview with CNN, Tursunay said that as she had lived 5 years in Kazakhstan, Chinese authorities want her to admit that she has been influenced by American propaganda and foreign agencies. Her remarks are highly debatable, but according to media reports, she does have connections with US-based and US-funded anti-China organisations, and that might be the main reason leading to the U-turns in her stories.
According to a Global Times report, the US-based Uygur Human Rights Project (UHRP) picked Tursunay up and began to "use her for their agitation against China," while BBC's report also confirmed that the organisation helped Tursunay get to the US, where she is applying to stay.
Based on Grazyzone's report, UHRP is part of the US-backed World Uygur Congress, which is generally believed to seek the fall of China. The project is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED granted UHRP a “whopping $1,244,698” between 2016 and 2019.
It can be confirmed that after the UHRP's interference, Tursunay's testimonies started to change, with multiple versions involving details she had formerly denied or not mentioned, such as "mass rape".
"In order to gain refugee status, Tursunay was willing to be an actress manipulated by anti-China forces. She fabricated her experience in the vocational center, but her lies have been repeatedly proven wrong by the facts," said Xu.