New UHRP Report Uncovers Seizure and Auction of Uyghur Business Assets
September 24, 2021 5:30 a.m. EDT
Uyghur Human Rights Project
Contact: Nicole Morgret +1 (703) 217-7266, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722
UHRP has released a new report documenting the Chinese government’s seizure and sale of property owned by successful Uyghur entrepreneurs.
The report, Under the Gavel: Evidence of Uyghur-Owned Property Seized and Sold Online, documents numerous properties belonging to Uyghur businesspeople being sold on the judicial auctions section of the e-commerce website Taobao, owned by the Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA). Assets sold by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) court system include commercial and residential real estate, as well as shares of companies. These properties were seized in the course of criminal cases during the ongoing genocide.
“Dispossession of Uyghurs during an ongoing genocide is an issue that has not been adequately documented,” said Omer Kanat, UHRP Executive Director. “Seizure of property has been a feature of genocides throughout history. This report can serve as a starting point for further research on this critical issue.”
In addition to the large-scale extrajudicial detention in concentration camps, the ongoing crackdown has also featured mass arrests of Uyghurs on politicized charges such as “aiding terrorism” and “extremism.” Innocuous behavior like traveling abroad or sending money to relatives overseas can result in these charges. The Chinese government has failed to publicly reveal any evidence in these cases, and has been conducting arrests and trials in near-complete secrecy.
The new UHRP report presents 12 cases of imprisoned Uyghurs whose property has been auctioned on the Taobao judicial auction platform. Five cases involve Uyghur businesspeople whose arrests have been publicly reported, including Abdujelil Helil, Ekber Imin, and Rozi Haji Hemdul. UHRP also identified seven additional cases of Uyghurs arrested on politicized “aiding terrorism” and similar charges, by examining the court order documents attached to judicial auctions.
It is rare to find official government documents referring to these types of arrests. No documentation related to the arrests and trials of the individuals described in this report are available on China Judgements Online, the official database of court records. The court orders attached to the Taobao e-commerce auctions provide unprecedented official evidence of property dispossession associated with politicized persecution of Uyghur business leaders.
Given the scale of arrests and mass detention taking place in East Turkistan, it is likely that the cases presented in this report represent only a fraction of the property dispossession taking place. The report raises troubling questions that require scrutiny, including:
- The rate of incarceration in the formal prison system of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples targeted in the Chinese government’s campaign of atrocities;
- The lack of transparency in record-keeping, as well as the general secrecy surrounding the judicial process to which Uyghurs are subjected; and
- The degree to which the Alibaba Group is complicit in the dispossession of Uyghurs in the ongoing crackdown. As a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, its role in the sale of Uyghur assets seized under unfair trials should be of grave concern to international investors and relevant international oversight institutions.