China has breached all provisions of UN Genocide Convention in Xinjiang: Report

Updated on Mar 09, 2021 05:06 PM IST
The report estimates between 1-2 million people have been detained in some 1,400 extrajudicial internment facilities created in Xinjiang since 2014. It also details allegations of sexual assault, forcible sterilisation, psychological torture, brainwashing and an unknown number of deaths in these camps
The report by Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy is being seen as possibly the first independent analysis of the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang. (Representational Image)
The report by Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy is being seen as possibly the first independent analysis of the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang. (Representational Image)

The Chinese government’s actions against Uyghurs in Xinjiang have breached every provision of the UN Genocide Convention, according to a new report by more than 50 experts in international law, genocide and war crimes.

Azeem Ibrahim, co-author of the report released on Tuesday by Washington-based think tank Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, said there is overwhelming evidence to support the allegation of genocide.

The report estimates between 1-2 million people have been detained in some 1,400 extrajudicial internment facilities created in Xinjiang since 2014. It also details allegations of sexual assault, forcible sterilisation, psychological torture, brainwashing and an unknown number of deaths in these camps.

“Uyghur detainees within the detention sites are systematically tortured, subjected to sexual violence, including rape, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment, deprived of their basic human needs, and severely humiliated,” the report said.

The report’s findings are largely in line with assessments by the US state department, which said in December 2018 that Chinese authorities had detained more than 2 million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities in internment camps since 2017.

The report by Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, which was founded as a nonpartisan think tank in 2019 by Fairfax University of America, is being seen as possibly the first independent analysis of the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang.

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Beijing has denied all allegations of rights abuses and defended its actions in Xinjiang as necessary to combat radicalisation and terrorism in the region following a string of attacks. Chinese officials have described the detention camps as “vocational training centres” that are part of a poverty alleviation campaign. Foreign minister Wang Yi told a news conference last week that the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang are “preposterous”.

China is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, and Article II of the convention defines genocide as acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. These acts include killing members of the group, causing bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”, imposing measures to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The Newslines Institute’s report, which was prepared in cooperation with the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, concluded that the evidence available shows “China is responsible for breaches of each provision of Article II of the [Genocide] Convention”.

“In this context, the Head of State, President Xi [Jinping], launched a ‘People’s War on Terror’ in the region and made the Uyghur-concentrated areas the front line, arguing that extremism has taken root in Uyghur society. Camp guards reportedly follow orders to uphold the system in place until ‘Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and other Muslim nationalities, would disappear...until all Muslim nationalities would be extinct’,” the report said.

“High-level officials gave orders to ‘round up everyone who should be rounded up,’ ‘wipe them out completely…destroy them root and branch,’ and ‘break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections and break their origins.’ Officials have likened the mass internment campaign to eradicating tumours and even uprooting weeds hidden among crops, which require spraying ‘chemicals to kill them all’,” the report added.

The report further said: “The intent to destroy the Uyghurs as a group is further demonstrated by the comprehensive government policies and programs directed at erasing all aspects of Uyghur identity, community, and domestic life, and institutionalising Uyghur children in state-run orphanages.

“Pursuant to these government campaigns, local authorities have eliminated Uyghur education, destroyed ethnically distinct Uyghur architecture and household features, and damaged or completely demolished the majority of mosques and sacred sites, while closing off other sites or converting them into commercial spaces, and destroying essential elements of Uyghur identity and communal bonds.”

The report is supported by some of the world’s most respected legal authorities, such as Baroness Helena Kennedy, Irwin Cotler and ambassador David Scheffer.

Ibrahim said: “This is the first independent expert legal analysis that applies the Genocide Convention to the available evidence. China’s intent to destroy the Uyghurs is more evident than previously understood based on explicit statements, state policy, directives and legal regulations originating at the highest level of State, President Xi, who has vowed to continue these policies for years to come as recently as a September 2020 conference setting the policy direction for the region.”

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