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

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For immediate release
January 14, 2021 9:00 a.m. EST
Contact: Peter Irwin, +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has reissued an open letter to governments, along with 29 genocide and atrocity prevention organizations from seven countries, and 21 senior experts, reiterating our grave concern that crimes against humanity and genocide are taking place against Uyghurs in East Turkistan.

“Uyghurs have now suffered unspeakable brutality for four years,” said Omer Kanat, UHRP Executive Director. “Systematic atrocity crimes began in 2017. How long will it take for UN member states to recognize these crimes and take action?”

Ellen Kennedy, Director of World Without Genocide, said “We urge an end to these human rights violations; the restoration and protection of Uyghurs’ safety and security; and legal investigations of those responsible for perpetrating these crimes.”

The original letter, supported by 22 genocide and atrocity prevention organizations and 16 senior experts from five countries, states that “The international community has the responsibility to respond to these crimes and protect Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples through diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means.”

The letter also 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.

Since the original publication of the open letter in September 2020, there have been growing calls to formally investigate the situation and to make appropriate determinations.

The Canadian Subcommittee on International Human Rights, in a news release on October 21, 2020, said that “Based on the evidence put forward during the Subcommittee hearings, both in 2018 and 2020, the Subcommittee is persuaded that the actions of the Chinese Communist Party constitute genocide as laid out in the Genocide Convention.” The subcommittee will soon submit a final report for consideration by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Canada.

The U.S. State Department is also reportedly reviewing the situation through its Office of Global Criminal Justice, which could trigger an official determination in the coming weeks or months. This followed the introduction of a bipartisan resolution on October 26by Senators Robert Menendez and John Cornyn to designate the abuses as genocide.

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

Human Security Centre

Institute for the Study of Genocide

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

International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law

Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights

Jewish World Watch

The Jo Cox Foundation

Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Center

Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies (MAHG), Stockton University

Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies

National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education

Operation Broken Silence

Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights

Remembering Srebrenica

René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights

Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention

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

Jacqueline Bhabha, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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

Kevin Jon Heller, Professor of International Law and Security, University of Copenhagen (Centre for Military Studies) and Professor of Law, Australian National University.

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

Ben Kiernan, A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History, and Founding Director (1994-2015), Genocide Studies Program, Yale University

Tod Lindberg, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, and member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience

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

Dirk Moses, Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Global Human Rights History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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