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Uyghur women in China labor camps recall horror of rape, forced sterilization

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Uyghur women in China labor camps recall horror of rape, forced sterilization

In 2017, Tursunay Ziyawudun was arrested off the street in northern China’s Xinjiang region, forced by police officers to turn over her passport and taken to a prison camp about 30 minutes from her village. There, she was made to sing communist songs of patriotism and repeatedly told that her Muslim religion does not exist. After a month, she developed stomach issues, fainted and was released.

“They sent me to the hospital,” Ziyawudun, who came to the United States as a political refugee in 2020, told The Post. “If they hadn’t I might have died.”

The year after she was arrested off the street, still in China, she was summoned to a police station and told that she needed to complete her training. She was sent back to the “re-education” camp, where her hair was shorn — likely to be sold as a wig — and her earrings were ripped out. “They pulled it so hard that my ears were bleeding,” Ziyawudun recalled. “I was being treating like an animal.”

Breaking down and crying, she said: “I was gang-raped and my private parts were tortured with electricity. You’re left with marks on your body that make you not want to look at yourself.”

Tursunay Ziyawudun told the BBC that this aerial image from 2019 looks like the site of the camp where she was held.
Google Earth

“They gave me sterilization pills,” said Ziyawudun. “I am pretty sure that is why I cannot have a baby now.”

Her story is, tragically, not uncommon for members of the minority Uyghur religion, with Turkish roots, in President XI Jinping’s China. Since around 2016, they have been pulled off the street and sent to reeducation camps — where reports have surfaced about people being tortured, raped and even killed. They are sent there under the auspices of learning a trade and having their patriotism reinforced.

On Thursday, the US Senate followed the House’s lead in passing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which promises to ban imports coming from the Xinjiang region — home to some 12 million Uyghur people — unless there is proof the goods were not produced by forced labor. It’s now waiting to be signed by President Biden.

Gulzira Auelkhan, who was interred for two years, told The Post she “felt like slave.”
Ron Sachs/CNP for NY Post

Amelia Pang, author of “Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods,” acknowledged that the act is a huge deal that “hurts China’s plan. China has invested a lot of money into making an important trade route [that goes through Xinjiang] a key part of what is called its Belt and Road Initiative. It’s a trillion-dollar project to connect China to Central Asia and Europe and the Middle East. It’s almost too big to fail.

“They are afraid of an uprising in the region. They are so afraid of losing out on their investment.”

But she pointed out that, to be effective, the act needs the teeth of corporate executives: According to a study published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, companies such as Nike, BMW and Apple use components and materials produced directly or indirectly by forced labor.

“The supply chain is murky … and there is not a whole lot of accountability,” Pang told The Post, adding that large corporations often look the other way and avoid asking the right questions. “They need to think about whether the money they are paying [for manufacturing] can realistically meet the wages from that region. Factories follow the bottom line and outsource to prison camps where workers are basically slave labor.”

An Apple spokesman told The Post, “We conducted over 1,100 audits, including surprise audits, and interviewed more than 57,000 workers to insure that our standards are upheld … We have found no evidence of forced labor anywhere in our supply chain.” Representatives for Nike and BMW did not respond to requests for comment.

Gulzira Auelkhan says her husband spotted her working in the glove factory in a Chinese State Media video on YouTube.
Auelkhan says her husband spotted her working in the glove factory in a Chinese State Media video on YouTube.
Chinese State Media

The next time you’re tempted to purchase a pair of leather gloves made in China, think of Gulzira Auelkhan. She spent two and a half months in a forced labor camp near the country’s northern border, working for pennies per hour stitching gloves.

“There were cameras and police and you could not sit,” she told The Post. “I worked constantly, 14 hours a day, and was yelled at so much that it began to feel normal.”

Amazingly, what kept Auelkhan, who received political asylum in the United States earlier this year, from slowing down on the assembly line was a fear that she would be relieved of her labor.

“If you said you did not want to work, you went back to the [prison] camp, where you would be tortured,” she said. “I felt like a slave but it was better than being in the other camp.”

Kuzzat Altay, the wealthy CEO of Cydeo, has now been taken to a re-education camp.
Kuzzat Altay, the CEO of Cydeo, said his father spent two years in a re-education camp.
Provided by Kuzzat Altay

Indeed, Ziyawudun recalled the looming threat of being summoned to a space that women in her prison camp referred to as “the dark room.”

“We were all scared of it. When the police wanted to threaten us, they’d say they were going to take us to that room,” Ziyawudun said. “Anything you can think of, including rape, takes place in that room.”

Pang is not surprised: “Rape is pretty standard in forced labor camps,” she said. “The goal is to brainwash prisoners into being patriotic and extremely aligned with the Chinese state.”

Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid, an organization with the mission of advancing religious freedom in China, was told by a former prisoner that the sexual brutality comes with a commercial component.

“We rescued a woman who was eyewitness to a program that the government organized for prostitution,” Fu told The Post. “She was handcuffed to the bed, the man did his thing and she cried. She said she heard the man shouting and complaining that he had paid good money for this and she was crying.”

Fiendishly convenient for the Chinese, according to Kuzzat Altay, CEO of Cydeo, an international software-coding boot camp, the use of forced labor in hundreds of camps and factories scattered around the country allows the Chinese government to undercut manufacturing costs around the world.

“China keeps prices low and Americans keep buying Chinese products cheaply,” said Altay, a former resident of Xinjiang who moved to America in 2008 and is an outspoken opponent of the country’s human right abuses.

“China’s entire supply chain of manufacturing involves forced labor. They make shoes, pants, solar panels in these forced-labor factories,” he told The Post. “The Chinese economy is a vehicle for oppression and a source of influence in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Wall Street. That money comes from slavery.”

A perimeter fence is constructed around what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China.
A perimeter fence is constructed around what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China.
Thomas Peter/REUTERS

Altay’s 67-year-old father was kept in a prison camp for two years, held there, supposedly, so the government could teach him a trade that could help the Communist Party.

For two years after, Altay said, “I did not know if he was alive or not. I cried every day. It was mental torture.”

Fortunately. Altay’s father emerged with his organs intact. “Organ harvesting is normal in the Chinese Communist Party,” Altay said. “They are known for this. There are some rich Middle Eastern clients who want Muslim kidneys” — which are free of alcohol and pork. “So Uyghur people were having their kidneys taken.”

In 2019, a group called the China Tribunal offered testimony to the United Nations Human Rights Council, maintaining that “forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale.”

Altay views this as more than pure cruelty — saying it’s also a form of slow-motion genocide. “The women get sterilized because the Chinese government wants to minimize the Uyghur population,” he said. “Right now the population growth is almost zero percent. In 10 years it will be zero.”

Chinese government spokespeople have denied this.

An image that reportedly shows prisoners in a Chinese political re-education camp in the Lop County, Hotan Prefecture, of Xinjiang.
This image reportedly shows prisoners in a Chinese political re-education camp in the Lop County, Hotan Prefecture, of Xinjiang.
Xinjiang Bureau of Justice/WeChat

Pang believes that the way to help put a stop to all of it is for Western consumers to stop buying goods that have been made with forced labor — a movement she calls “ethical consumerism” — and for the Nikes of the world to respond appropriately.

“If it’s not lucrative for the Chinese factories to use forced labor, if they can lose major contracts,” she said, “it will have an impact on these camps.”

And it will allow American manufacturers to compete on a more level playing field. As Altay put it: “You buy something made in China, you are giving China a bullet to shoot back to America.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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