Genocide prevention experts call for UN Commission of Inquiry on crimes against humanity and genocide against Uyghurs

For immediate release
September 15, 2020 12:00am EDT
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project
+1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has sent an open letter to governments, along with 22 genocide and atrocity prevention organizations from 5 countries, and 16 senior experts, expressing grave concern that crimes against humanity and genocide are taking place against Uyghurs in East Turkistan.

The international community must uphold its responsibility to take action through diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, irrespective of label that might be applied. The letter states, “The atrocities being perpetrated are no less egregious if they are found to constitute one international crime or another.”

“It’s particularly meaningful that such a significant group of experts have expressed their collective alarm about atrocity crimes in East Turkistan,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat.

The atrocities cited in the letter include mass arbitrary detention, political indoctrination, enforced disappearances, destruction of cultural sites, forced labour, and policies intended to reduce birth rates, including involuntary abortions and sterilizations. UHRP called for action in July in response to reports of birth prevention policies.

The signatories argue: “These measures meet the threshold of acts constitutive of genocide, core international crimes under the Genocide Convention.”

Chinese government policies are also consistent with crimes against humanity, an international crime under the Rome Statute, including persecution against an identifiable group on racial, ethnic, and religious grounds, forced population transfers, enforced disappearances, and deprivation of liberty in violation of international law.

UHRP Senior Program Officer Peter Irwin said: “The facts are on the table. States have clear obligations to hold perpetrators accountable for crimes of this magnitude. What do these obligations actually mean if no government is willing to step up to enforce them?”

The open letter calls on governments to appoint a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the abuses, to implement commitments on atrocity and genocide prevention through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, and independently investigate and make appropriate legal determinations regarding the situation.

Organizational signatories:

Aegis Trust

Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Atrocity Forecasting Project

Coalition for Genocide Response

Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Keene State College

European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Genocide Alert

Genocide Watch

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

Institute for the Study of Genocide

Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP), Binghamton University

Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights

The Jo Cox Foundation

Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies

Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights

Remembering Srebrenica

René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights

Society for Threatened Peoples

Protection Approaches

Uyghur Human Rights Project

Waging Peace

World Without Genocide

Individual signatories:

Mehnaz M. Afridi, Director, Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center, Manhattan College

Daniel Feierstein, Director, Center for Studies on Genocide, National University of Tres de Febrero

Jocelyn Getgen, Director, Benjamin B. Ferencz Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic

Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, Associate Professor, Department of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Keene State College

Zachary D. Kaufman, Associate Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Houston Law Center

Peter McBride, Director, The Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Keene State College

Christoph Meyer, Professor of European & International Politics, King’s College London

Maxim A. Pensky, Co-Director, Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Binghamton University

Nadia M. Rubaii, Co-Director, Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Binghamton University

David Simon, Director, Yale Genocide Studies Program

Karen E. Smith, Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science

Gregory Stanton, President, Genocide Watch

John Sturtz, Associate Professor, Education & Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Keene State College

Ernesto Verdeja, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

James E. Waller, Cohen Professor of Holocaust & Genocide Studies, Keene State College

Andrew Woolford, Former President, International Association of Genocide Scholars