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A member of the Uighur minority on Monday detailed torture and abuse she says she experienced in one of the internment camps where the Chinese government has detained hundreds of thousands of religious minorities.

Mihrigul Tursun, speaking to reporters in Washington, said she was interrogated for four days in a row without sleep, had her hair shaved and was subjected to an intrusive medical examination following her second arrest in China in 2017. After she was arrested a third time, the treatment grew worse.

“I thought that I would rather die than go through this torture and begged them to kill me,” Tursun, 29, told reporters at a meeting at the National Press Club.

Human rights groups say China has detained up to 2 million Uighurs to promote what the government calls “ethnic unity” in the country’s far west. On Monday, over 270 scholars from 26 countries released a statement drawing attention to “mass human rights abuses and deliberate attacks on indigenous cultures” taking place in China.

“In the camps, these detainees, most of whom are Uighur, are subjected to deeply invasive forms of surveillance and psychological stress as they are forced to abandon their native language, religious beliefs and cultural practices,” the statement said. “Outside of the camps, more than 10 million Turkic Muslim minorities in the region are subjected to a dense network of surveillance systems, checkpoints, and interpersonal monitoring which severely limit all forms of personal freedom.”

Raised in China, Tursun moved to Egypt to study English at a university and soon met her husband and had triplets with him. In 2015, Tursun traveled to China to spend time with her family and was immediately detained and separated from her infant children. When Tursun was released three months later, one of the triplets died and the other two developed health problems. Tursun said the children had been operated on. She was arrested for a second time about two years later. Read more

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