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China Xinjiang: First independent report on Uyghur genocide allegations proves Beijing’s intent to destroy ‘Muslim minorities

This is the first time that a non-governmental organization is conducting an independent legal analysis of the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang, including what responsibility Beijing may bear for the alleged crimes. A preview of the report was viewed exclusively by CNN.

On January 19, the outgoing Trump administration declared that the Chinese government committed genocide in Xinjiang. One month later, the Dutch and Canadian parliaments adopted similar movements despite opposition from their leaders.

Azeem Ibrahim, director of special initiatives at Newlines and co-author of the new report, said there was “overwhelming”

; evidence in support of its allegation of genocide.

“This is a great global power whose leadership is the architects of a genocide,” he said.

This photo taken on June 4, 2019 shows a facility believed to be a retraining camp where most Muslim ethnic minorities are being held north of Akto in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.

Genocide Convention

The four-party UN Genocide Convention was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948 and has a clear definition of what constitutes “genocide.” China is a signatory to the convention along with 151 other countries.

Article II of the Convention calls for genocide an attempt to commit acts “with the intention, in whole or in part, of destroying a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”

According to the convention, there are five ways in which genocide can take place: killing members of the group; causes serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group deliberately inflicting conditions of life intended to cause its physical destruction in whole or in part; introduce measures to prevent births within the group or forcibly transfer children of the group to another group.

Since the convention was introduced in 1948, most convictions for genocide have taken place in the international criminal courts of the United Nations, such as those of Rwanda and Yugoslavia, or in national courts. In 2006, former dictator Saddam Hussein was found guilty of genocide by a court in Iraq.

However, any establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal will require the approval of the UN Security Council, of which China is a permanent member with a veto, making any hearing on the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang unlikely.

While violation of only one act in the Genocide Convention would constitute a finding of genocide, the Newlines report claims that the Chinese government has met all the criteria with its actions in Xinjiang.

“China’s policies and practices targeted at Uighurs in the region must be seen in their entirety, which is equivalent to an intention to destroy the Uighurs as a group, in whole or in part,” the report claimed.

A separate report published on February 8 by the Essex Court Chambers in London, commissioned by the World Uyghur Congress and Uyghur Human Rights Project, reached a similar conclusion that there is a “credible case” against the Chinese government for genocide.

No specific sanctions or penalties are provided for in the Convention for states or governments determined to have committed genocide. But the Newlines report said the other 151 signatories under the convention have a responsibility to act.

“China’s commitments … to prevent, punish and not commit genocide are erga omnes or due to the international community as a whole,” the report added.

‘Clear and convincing’

Yonah Diamond, legal adviser at the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights who worked on the report, said a common public misconception about the definition of genocide was that it required evidence of mass murder or a physical extermination of a people.

“The real question is, is there sufficient evidence to show that there is an intention to destroy the group as such – and that is what this report reveals,” he said.

All five definitions of genocide described in the Convention are examined in the report to determine whether the allegations against the Chinese government meet each specific criterion.

“Given the serious nature of the infringements in question … this report applies a clear and convincing standard of evidence,” the report said.

The Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy was founded in 2019 as an impartial think tank by Fairfax University of America with the goal of “strengthening U.S. foreign policy based on a deep understanding of geopolitics in the various regions of the world and their value systems.” known as the Center for Global Policy.

Vehicles are standing in a parking lot as a large screen displays a picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Kashgar, Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, on Thursday, November 8, 2018.

Thousands of Uyghur exile testimonies and official Chinese government documents were among the evidence the authors considered, Diamond said.

According to the report, between 1 million and 2 million people have reportedly been detained in as many as 1,400 out-of-court detention facilities across Xinjiang by the Chinese government since 2014, when it launched a campaign apparently targeting Islamic extremism.

Beijing has claimed that the demolition was necessary after a series of deadly attacks on Xinjiang and other parts of China, which China has categorized as terrorism.

The report describes allegations of sexual assault, psychological torture, attempted cultural brainwashing and an unknown number of deaths in the camps.

“Uyghur detainees in detention camps are … deprived of their basic human needs, severely humiliated and subjected to inhuman treatment or punishment, including isolation without food for extended periods,” the report claimed.

“Suicide has become so prevalent that detainees must wear ‘suicide-proof’ uniforms and be denied access to materials susceptible to causing self-harm.”

The report also attributed a dramatic drop in the birth rate in Uyghur across the region – down about 33% between 2017 and 2018 – to the alleged implementation of an official Chinese government program on sterilizations, abortions and contraception, which in some cases was forced on women without their consent. .

The Chinese government has confirmed the decline in the birth rate to CNN, but claimed that the Uighur population in Xinjiang between 2010 and 2018 generally increased.

During the attack, textbooks for Uighur culture, history and literature were allegedly removed from teaching Xinjiang school children, according to the report. In the camps, detainees were forcibly taught Mandarin and described as being tortured if they refused or could not speak it.

Using public documents and speeches given by Communist Party officials, the report claimed responsibility for the alleged genocide by the Chinese government.

Researchers cited official speeches and documents in which Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are referred to as “weeds” and “tumors.” A government directive is alleged to call on local authorities to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their ties and break their origins.”

“All in all, the individuals and entities committing the enumerated acts of genocide, government agencies and agents under Chinese law,” the report said. “The practice of these enumerated genocide incidents … against the Uighurs can therefore necessarily be attributed to the state of China.”

Rian Thum, a report contributor and Uyghur historian at the University of Manchester, said in 20 years, people would look back on the collapse of Xinjiang as “one of the great acts of cultural destruction of the last century.”

“I think many Uighurs will take this report as a long-delayed recognition of the suffering they and their family and friends and community have gone through,” Thum said.

‘The lie of the century’

The Chinese government has repeatedly defended its actions in Xinjiang, saying citizens now enjoy a high standard of living.

“The allegation of genocide is the lie of the century, devised by extremely anti-Chinese forces. It is a gruesome farce aimed at smearing and destroying China,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news conference on February 4.
The detention camps, which Beijing refers to as “vocational training centers”, are described by officials and state media as being part of both a campaign to combat poverty and a mass radicalization program to combat terrorism.

“(But) you can also have an anti-terror campaign that is genocide,” said report contributor John Packer, associate professor at the University of Ottawa and former director of the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities in The Hague.

World Uyghur Congress British director Rahima Mahmut, who was not involved in the report, said many countries “say (they) can do nothing but they can.”

“These countries, the countries that have signed the Genocide Convention, they have an obligation to prevent and punish … I feel that every country can act,” she said.

While the reporting team avoided making recommendations for maintaining impartiality, co-author Ibrahim said the consequences of its findings were “very serious.”

“This (is) not a lawyer’s document, we are not in favor of any action. There were no campaigns involved in this report, it was carried out purely by legal experts, area experts and Chinese ethnic experts,” he said.

But Packer said such a “serious breach of international order” in the world’s second-largest economy raised questions about global governance.

“If this is not sufficient to initiate some kind of action or even to take positions, what is really required?” he said.

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