China committing genocide against Uyghurs, people’s tribunal finds

Chinese Communist Party responsible for ‘deliberate, systematic and concerted policy’ of lowering Uyghur birth rates, says panel

Rory Sullivan
Thursday 09 December 2021 16:25

Uyghur Tribunal hearing 'neither legal nor credible', says China

China is committing genocide against the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities through policies such as forced birth control and sterilisations, a people’s tribunal in London has ruled.

Before passing its judgment on Thursday, the Uyghur Tribunal received testimony from dozens of victims and China experts over two hearings in June and September.

The panel of nine citizens - consisting of three academics, two lawyers, two doctors, a businessman and an ex-diplomat - also consulted hundreds of pages of evidence.

They found that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is guilty of genocide over the atrocities it is alleged to have committed in Xinjiang province, where hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been detained in mass internment camps since 2017.

The “jury” decided that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) deliberately intended to bring about the partial destruction of the Uyghur community and its way of life.

Explaining its ruling, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who chaired the tribunal, cited the strategies of mass internment, family separation, sterilisations, sexual violence, forced labour and the destruction of cultural heritage sites as examples of an “apparatus of state repression”.

The tribunal was satisfied that the CCP bears responsibility for a “deliberate, systematic and concerted policy” of lowering Uyghur birth rates, Sir Geoffrey said.

The Uyghur Tribunal also ruled that the PRC is guilty of crimes against humanity, including rape, torture and enforced sterilisation.

Beijing continues to reject the suggestion that it is guilty of such crimes in Xinjiang, maintaining that it is simply fighting terrorism and separatism by “re-educating” the local population.

However, leaked documents appear to contradict this narrative, with one set – the China Cables – detailing how the Chinese president Xi Jinping was alleged to have said “absolutely no mercy” should be given to the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.

The Uyghur Tribunal came about because of the inability of the international courts to hold China to account.

A trial before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was out of the question since China is a member of the UN Security Council and can veto its passage. The International Criminal Court (ICC) was also not an option, as it has no jurisdiction in Xinjiang because Beijing is not a signatory of the ICC’s Rome Statute.

Earlier this year, Dolkun Isa, who heads the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), a diaspora group, told The Independent that the Uyghur Tribunal was the only way his people could seek justice.

“This is the only option: a people’s tribunal to hold China accountable. Because other international institutions, all national courts are impossible,” he said.

Over the Uyghur Tribunal’s two hearings, camp survivors such as Tursinay Ziyawdun told jurors about the ordeals they suffered.

Ziyawdun, 42, who was gang-raped multiple times by officials while in detention, said in May that she was giving evidence so that people could “contribute to stopping this genocide”.

“I’m not scared of the Chinese government. I am not scared of them at all. Although I look like I’m alive, I’m already dead. The Chinese government took everything from me. They took over my body, they took over my mind. Everything. I have nothing left,” she said.

Qelbinur Sidiq, 52, was forced to teach Chinese in several internment camps in Xinjiang. She was later sterilised along with many other women.

“When I got to the clinic, there were hundreds of Uyghur women waiting in a line. And I waited for four hours and when it was my turn I was sterilised,” she recalled.

The Uyghur Tribunal’s verdict was announced on Genocide Prevention Day, which marks the anniversary of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.

Countries including Australia, the UK and the US said this week that they would not send officials to next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing because of human rights abuses in China.

China, which declined to be involved in the tribunal proceedings, dismissed the diplomatic boycott as “political posturing”, saying the US would “pay a price” for its decision.

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