An international tribunal investigating China’s oppression of the Uyghur people has charged Xi Jinping’s regime with genocide, crimes against humanity and systematic torture. The tribunal was asked by the Uyghur World Congress to investigate the genocide and independently convened by Sir Geoffrey Nice, the British lawyer who prosecuted Slobodan Milosevic. In the tradition of independent people’s courts, it has no executive power, but rather moral and intellectual credibility that governments should heed. It is now vital that the international community act to stop these crimes and hold the perpetrators to account.
The strength of the Uyghur court’s judgment last week lies in its prudence, impartiality and legal rigor. Over the past year, he has meticulously examined the evidence. The court repeatedly invited Beijing to appear but received no response. The court ignored evidence it had reason to believe was unfounded or unfair to Beijing, and it submitted some submissions for independent expert review.
Besides Mr Nice, the tribunal included five professors (including two of Britain’s foremost medical experts) as well as business leaders, philanthropists and lawyers. Their 62-page judgment failed to substantiate some of the genocide accusations, concluding that while the Uyghurs were killed “in various ways,” the evidence does not show destruction on a scale that could threaten the existence of the group.
Likewise, the judgment concluded that the crimes against humanity of murder, extermination and enslavement had not been proven. But — and this is why this judgment is so powerful and must be taken so seriously — this is not the end of the story. The crimes of expulsion and forcible transfer of persons, serious deprivation of physical liberty, torture, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearance and “inhumane acts” are all proven “beyond a reasonable doubt. “, According to the court.
The Chinese regime has been found guilty of the irrefutable charge of “imposing conditions designed to prevent birth”. Forced sterilization, removal of the uterus, abortions and contraception all resulted, according to the court judges, “far fewer births” among the Uyghur population. And the court said it was convinced that these measures “were aimed at destroying a significant part of the Uyghurs”. This means that the tribunal has always found genocide, even after rejecting some particular charges.
This conclusion is historic. This is the first time that a quasi-judicial body, independent from the government, has rendered such a judgment. The previous and current US administration had accused Mr. Xi’s regime of genocide, as had the parliaments of Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but they did not empower commissions or courts to investigate. .
The judgment describes hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs detained without reason, subjected to “acts of unreasonable cruelty, depravity and inhumanity.” Many have been tortured and “shackled,.” . . standing still for months. Others were “confined in containers up to their necks in cold water and held in cages so small that it was impossible to stand or lie down.” A young woman was gang raped by police in front of 100 people who were forced to watch. “Some female detainees have had their vaginas and rectums penetrated by electric shock rods and iron bars. ”
The horrors described by the Uyghur court ruling are not new to anyone who has studied China’s Xinjiang Province in recent years, although their gravity and systematic nature are shocking. But this is the first time that China’s oppression of Uyghurs has been presented in such comprehensive form, concluding that under international law, the Beijing regime is committing genocide and crimes against humanity.
The tribunal has done its job. It is now up to governments to do theirs. They have a duty to stop the genocide. They must activate the arsenal of political actions: targeted sanctions, ban on products made by slave labor, diversification of supply chains and exploration of avenues of prosecution.
The diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics is a start. But more is needed. The United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, European allies, Japan and other democracies must act together to stop Xi Jinping’s crimes and bring justice to the Uyghurs.
Mr. Rogers is co-founder and managing director of Hong Kong Watch and vice-chairman of the British Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission.
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