An unofficial UK-based tribunal Thursday concluded that China has carried out acts of genocide against the Uyghur people in its western province of Xinjiang.
The Uyghur Tribunal is an independent people’s tribunal formed last year to investigate ongoing atrocities and allegations of genocide against the Uyghur, Kazakh, and other Turkic Muslim populations in western China. The goal of the tribunal is to offer an impartial review of the evidence and provide a conclusion on whether international crimes have been committed by the Chinese government. It will then be up to states and other international institutions to determine how to respond.
The tribunal’s report concluded that the systematic detention of Uyghurs and their forcible sterilization was planned and sanctioned by the highest levels of Chinese government. The tribunal declared that torture and other crimes against humanity, including deportations, forcible transfers, imprisonment and other deprivations of liberty, rape and sexual violence, have been committed against the Uyghurs and other persecuted peoples.
The report noted there is no evidence of mass killings of Uyghurs, although there are reports that some Uyghurs have been killed in detention. However, the report determined that the enforced sterilizations and other methods of forced birth control have had the effect of a genocidal intend by the Chinese government. The report concluded with a final reflection that, “if rights are truly universal then they are matched by universal duties.” The tribunal urged nation states, international bodies, and NGOs to uphold their duties and not look away “from the needless suffering of fellow citizens anywhere in the world.”
China has already been sanctioned by the US, UK, EU, and Canadian governments for what they characterized as “gross and systematic human rights violations.” Human Rights Watch has also stated that China’s actions toward the Uyghurs could amount to crimes against humanity. China’s foreign ministry, on the other hand, called the tribunal’s conclusions a “political farce” and denied the allegation of genocide.