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'Uyghur Tribunal' Says China Committed Genocide In Xinjiang

Guards monitor Uyghur inmates at a reeducation camp in northwestern China's Xinjiang region. (file photo)
Guards monitor Uyghur inmates at a reeducation camp in northwestern China's Xinjiang region. (file photo)

A London-based independent, unofficial panel investigating alleged human rights abuses in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region has concluded that the government committed “genocide, crimes against humanity and torture” against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and members of the region’s other indigenous, mostly Muslim ethnic groups.

The Uyghur Tribunal, made up of British lawyers, academics, and businesspeople, doesn't have any government backing, but organizers hope the process of publicly laying out evidence of abuse in Xinjiang will compel international action against Beijing’s policies.

China has been under growing international criticism and has been hit with sanctions for detaining more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities for political reeducation in Xinjiang.

China insists such camps are "vocational education centers" aimed at helping people steer clear of terrorism.

In a 63-page report issued on December 9, the Uyghur Tribunal said there was no evidence of mass killing, the group said it was “satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the PRC [People's Republic of China], by the imposition of measures to prevent births intended to destroy a significant part of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang as such, has committed genocide.”

Other measures to reduce the group's population included forced sterilization and abortion, the panel said, adding: “The population of Uyghurs in future generations will be smaller than it would have been without these policies. This will result in a partial destruction of the Uyghurs."

The U.S. administration has declared that China’s abuses in Xinjiang amounted to genocide. According to the State Department, the abuse includes imprisonment, torture, and enforced sterilization.

Responding to a question about a law passed by the U.S. House of Representatives to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on December 9 that “the so-called forced labor and genocide in Xinjiang are entirely vicious rumors.”

The Uyghur Tribunal also concluded that China “has built a very extensive network of detention and penal institutions, that it has imprisoned hundreds of thousands and maybe a million and more of Uyghurs without substantive cause and without any recognizable or legitimate legal process.”

Many of those detained have been “tortured for no reason,” and both women and men held in camps have been “raped and subjected to extreme sexual violence.”

President Xi Jinping and other senior officials "bear primary responsibility for acts that have occurred in Xinjiang," according to the report.

The Uyghur Tribunal was set up at the request of the World Uyghur Congress, the largest group representing exiled Uyghurs.

The tribunal issued its opinion after examining evidence from dozens of witnesses, experts, leaked Chinese government documents, and thousands of pages of documentary evidence from independent researchers and human rights organizations for more than a year.

The report comes as a growing number of countries have joined the United States in announcing a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, due to be held in February 2022.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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