STATEMENT: UHRP Welcomes Global Action To Address Likely Genocide, Finally

UHRP Welcomes Global Action To Address Likely Genocide, Finally

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) welcomes recent global calls to address gross human rights abuses in East Turkistan, and urges immediate action to ensure the Chinese government is held to account over what may now be considered genocide.

Recent reporting from the Associated Press, along with research from China scholar Adrian Zenz, shows that the Chinese government has been reducing Uyghur births through a combination of forced sterilization, forced abortions, and coercive family planning targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic groups in East Turkistan.

The reports show a significant drop in birth rates among Uyghurs and a substantial increase in sterilizations and the use of IUDs between 2015 and 2018. Violations of these coercive policies, according to government documents (and corroborated by the UHRP in a recent report), are punishable by extrajudicial detention in internment camps.

These findings very likely meet the definition of genocide as outlined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which includes “measures intended to prevent births.”

The element of likely genocidal intent is illustrated in a 2018 prefecture-level government statement ordering local officials to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins.” The statement came following a speech from Chinese president Xi Jinping, who compared Islam to “a virus-like contagion” that would require “a period of painful, interventionary treatment.”

In addition, many institutions have already argued that China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples may amount to crimes against humanity, including the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China, the Simon Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The UHRP has compiled considerable evidence supporting this claim, including mass, arbitrary detention in violation of international law, the persecution of the Uyghur population on racial and religious grounds, and widespread enforced disappearances. The destruction of countless Uyghur cultural sites and the use of forced or coercive labor have further underscored what appears to be China’s genocidal intent.

Attempts to label China’s policy in East Turkistan have been complicated by the slow leak of information from the region. Leaks have painted an increasingly detailed picture over time but also present a moving target for the international community.

The picture is now clear enough for the international community to take specific steps in response. 

States should immediately evaluate the situation, taking into consideration existing evidence, and make independent legal determinations on what is taking place.

On June 26, more than 50 UN experts took steps in that direction and issued a statement denouncing China’s human rights record, notably the treatment of the Uyghurs and Tibetans, as well as the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong.

The group put forward a set of three strong recommendations for the UN including the establishment of a special session to evaluate China’s human rights record, the appointment of a Special Rapporteur or panel of experts to monitor, analyse and report on the human rights situation in China, and a call on Member States and UN agencies to demand that China fulfill its human rights obligations.

Such a broad and forceful statement from nearly all members of the UN Special Procedures represents an unprecedented declaration of concern for the lack of response from the Chinese government to countless, credible allegations raised within the UN system already.

In a June 29 statement, the Interparliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a group consisting of parliamentarians from 15 countries, called for a resolution to be tabled at the UN General Assembly to investigate the situation in East Turkistan, for governments to make appropriate legal determinations about the nature of the rights abuses, and for “rapid and decisive political action to be taken to prevent the further suffering of the Uyghur people and other minorities in China.”

These calls are supported by a long list of joint statements of concern from UN Member States; European Parliament resolutions; hundreds of scholars; Muslim imams, scholars and community leaders; and joint letters to the UN Secretary General.

Few other ongoing issues have elicited this kind of global response, illustrating the immediate need for action to counter the Chinese government’s ongoing repressive campaign in East Turkistan.

The UHRP therefore calls for:

  • UN Member States to take immediate steps to make a legal determination on the situation facing Uyghurs and other Turkic groups in East Turkistan.

  • UN Member States to take all necessary measures to demand China fulfill its human rights obligations.

  • The appointment of an independent UN expert or panel of experts and the creation of a special UN session to monitor, evaluate, and report on the human rights situation in China.

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