Human Rights

Xi deemed personally responsible for horrors China has committed against Muslims

By al-Mashareq and AFP

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Visitors walk in front of a screen showing Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing on November 11. [Noel Celis/AFP]

LONDON -- The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) beyond reasonable doubt is committing genocide against Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims in Xinjiang -- and Chinese President Xi Jinping bears "primary responsibility", the Uyghur Tribunal reported earlier this month.

Nine lawyers and human rights analysts published their opinion December 9 after hearing allegations of crimes against humanity, torture, rape and inhumane treatment at two evidence sessions this year in London.

The tribunal was set up at the request of the World Uyghur Congress, the largest group representing exiled Uighurs, which lobbies the international community to act against China over the alleged abuses.

In a 63-page report, the panel said the CCP "intended to destroy a significant part" of the Muslim Uighur minority in the country's northwest and as such "has committed genocide".

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A view of some of the more than 100 new facilities Beijing has recently built to detain Muslims. [Buzzfeed]

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A man drives past a mosque in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, on September 11, 2019. Beijing has been destroying mosque minarets and burial grounds where generations of Uighur families have been laid to rest, leaving behind human bones and broken tombs, in what activists call an effort to eradicate the ethnic group's identity in Xinjiang. [Hector Retamal/AFP]

The CCP put in place "a comprehensive system of measures to 'optimise' the population in Xinjiang" to reduce the Uighur birth rate, including forced sterilisation, birth control and abortion.

"The population of Uighurs in future generations will be smaller than it would have been without these policies. This will result in a partial destruction of the Uighurs," it said.

"In accordance with the Genocide Convention's use of the word 'destroy' this satisfies a prohibited act required for the proof of genocide," the tribunal concluded.

Xi bears 'primary responsibility'

British barrister Geoffrey Nice, a former United Nations war crimes prosecutor, chaired the Uyghur Tribunal.

He and the other members examined thousands of pages of documentary evidence and academic reports from independent researchers and human rights organisations, media reports, and public documents from the People's Republic of China (PRC) itself.

The panel concluded that hundreds of thousands of Uighurs -- and possibly more than one million -- had been arbitrarily detained, and treated cruelly and inhumanely.

It found beyond reasonable doubt that torture had occurred "by or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of, public officials or other persons acting in official capacities of the PRC and/or CCP".

It upheld claims of imprisonment, forced transfer, enforced disappearances, rape and sexual violence, persecution and inhumane acts.

"The tribunal is satisfied that a comprehensive plan for the enactment of multiple but interlinked policies targeting the Uighurs had been formulated by the PRC," it said.

Xi and other senior officials "bear primary responsibility" for the atrocities committed against the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, the tribunal said.

Evidence points to litany of abuses

The tribunal noted the CCP's speed in constructing detention centres, the treatment of detainees, the destruction of mosques across Xinjiang, and the use of technology and state surveillance to control the population.

"In classes in detention centres detainees were forced to learn and sing songs in praise of the CCP and PRC in the presence of guards at risk of being dragged from class, tortured to the point of screaming within hearing of those still in the class," Nice said, reading from the tribunal's report.

Female detainees, and possibly men, were forced to take medicine that affected their reproductive functions and that had other mind altering effects, he said.

"Pregnant women in detention centres and outside were forced to have abortions even at the very last stages of pregnancy," the tribunal found. "In the course of attempted abortions, babies were sometimes born alive but then killed."

Through intense monitoring and surveillance, parts of Xinjiang have become a form of "open prison", it said.

Neighbours have been enticed or forced to spy on each other, and prominent members of society -- including religious, cultural, political and business leaders -- have been imprisoned or have "disappeared" and in some cases have been killed, it said.

Children as young as a few months have been separated from their families and placed in orphanages or CCP-run boarding schools, sometimes without the parents knowing whether their children were alive or dead.

Uighur women have been forced to marry men from the Han ethnic majority, with the risk of detention or other punishment for refusal.

In other cases, "family friends" -- usually Han men -- have been sent to stay with Uighur families for weeks at a time "to monitor and report on the household's thoughts and behaviour", the tribunal found.

"Children have been questioned and the Han men sometimes slept in the same bed as the family, in some cases when the Uighur man was in detention, with the inevitable consequences of sexual harassment and nonconsensual sex," it said.

Mounting sanctions

Beijing has denounced the Uyghur Tribunal, which is not affiliated with any government, as a mendacious "anti-China" smear and slapped sanctions on its chairman.

The United States, several other Western nations and human rights organisations have called China's treatment of the Uighurs "genocide".

Countries including the United States, Australia, Canada and Great Britain are mounting a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The US government last week unleashed a volley of actions to censure China's treatment of the Uighurs.

The US Senate on December 16 unanimously supported making the United States the first country to ban virtually all imports from Xinjiang over forced labour concerns.

"We know it's happening at an alarming, horrific rate with the genocide that we now witness being carried out," said Senator Marco Rubio, a driver behind the act, which US President Joe Biden signed into law on December 23.

The Senate confirmed as ambassador to China diplomat Nicholas Burns, who has described China as an "aggressor" and denounced the Uighur "genocide".

The Biden administration enacted a round of sanctions over surveillance in Xinjiang, where rights groups say China has been using new technologies to monitor the Uighurs.

Targeted companies include SZ DJI Technology, the world's largest producer of consumer drones.

"These eight entities actively support the surveillance and tracking of members of ethnic and religious minority groups in the PRC, predominantly Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang," said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The United States had already restricted trade exports to the company, but the new sanctions will criminalise any US investment in it.

Other companies targeted included Xiamen Meiya Pico Information, which has developed a mobile application to track files on phones, and Cloudwalk Technology, developed to recognise faces of Uighurs and Tibetans.

Separately, the US Commerce Department restricted sensitive exports to the Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS) and 11 of its research institutes over biotechnology work including "purported brain-control weaponry", a notice said.

"Unfortunately, the PRC is choosing to use these technologies to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

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