A London-based unofficial tribunal has ruled that the Chinese government has committed genocide against the Muslim Uyghur population, other ethnic minorities and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang (East Turkestan) region.
Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, chair of the Uyghur Tribunal and a prominent British human rights lawyer, said on Thursday as he read the verdict: “The tribunal is satisfied that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] has affected a deliberate, systematic and concerted policy with the object of so-called ‘optimizing’ the population in Xinjiang by the means of a long-term reduction of Uyghur and other ethnic minority populations to be achieved through limiting and reducing Uyghur births…
“The tribunal was satisfied that President Xi Jinping, Chen Quanguo and other very senior officials in the PRC and CCP (Chinese Communist Party) bear primary responsibility for acts in Xinjiang.
“While the perpetration of individual criminal acts that may have occurred, rape or torture, may not have been carried out with the detailed knowledge of the President and others, but the tribunal is satisfied that they have occurred as a direct result of politics, language and speeches promoted by President Xi and others and furthermore these policies could not have happened in a country with such rigid hierarchies as the PRC without implicit and explicit authority from the very top.”
In multiple hearings this year the evidence and testimonies were reviewed by a panel of jurors comprised of lawyers and academics. On two occasions this year, the tribunal heard from more than seventy witnesses and victims.
The UK based non-government tribunal was founded by Nice after requests from Uyghur activists in 2020. Although the tribunal doesn’t have government support and can’t sanction or enforce changes, it can highlight the gravity of the situation in East Turkestan.
According to the tribunal’s website: “The Uyghur Tribunal, which has no powers of sanction or enforcement, will confine itself to reviewing evidence in order to reach an impartial and considered judgment on whether international crimes are proved to have been committed by the PRC.”
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Although several countries including the U.S. has declared Chinese actions genocidal, Britain has so far refused to do so. Several MPs have urged the government to re-evaluate the decision and declare Chinese actions in East Turkestan as genocide.
The tribunal report says: “Hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs – with some estimates well in excess of a million – have been detained by PRC authorities without any, or any remotely sufficient reason, and subjected to acts of unconscionable cruelty, depravity and inhumanity. Sometimes up to 50 have been detained in a cell of 22 sq metres.”
Nus Ghani, Conservative MP told BBC: “This tribunal was set up to the highest legal standards and the evidence that was put forward today shows that there is enough proof beyond reasonable doubt that there was an intent to commit genocide. What is particularly troubling is the evidence that this genocide is in particular targeted at women, and focused on preventing births.”
Meanwhile, Zheng Zeguang, China’s ambassador to the UK has called the tribunal a “political manipulation aimed at discrediting China.”
He said: “It is a non-governmental entity funded by anti-China forces. It is a fake and has no legal basis or validity whatsoever. Its so-called “evidence” is nothing but sheer lies and disinformation. Its so-called “experts” are rumour mongers who have long engaged in slandering China. And the so-called “witnesses” the organizers have put together are merely actors who have been making up the so-called “persecution” that never happened at all…
“The organisation has been designed to tarnish the image of China, mislead the public here, spoil the goodwill between the Chinese people and the British people and disrupt the smooth development of the China-UK relationship. We are firmly opposed to it and strongly condemn such malicious act.”