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China's 'intent to destroy' Uighur Muslims proves genocide in Xinjiang, independent report says Open in fullscreen

Narjas Zatat

China's 'intent to destroy' Uighur Muslims proves genocide in Xinjiang, independent report says

Activists hope the report will galvanise the international community to take action [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 March, 2021

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A newly-published report says China has violated every single provision in the UN Genocide Convention.


A new, unprecedented report written by dozens of experts has revealed that China has broken every single provision in the United Nations Convention on Genocide – to which China is a signatory - in its treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority.

More than 50 experts, including lawyer Rayhan E Asat, whose sister served time in a Uighur concentration camp, came together to collect and examine key evidence from China that proves it breached five articles of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

They collected their findings in a 55-page report published by the Newlines Institute For Strategy and Policy, a Washington-based thinktank.

Experts looked at first-hand testimonies from Uighur Muslims and studied China’s legislative changes pertaining to minority groups, as well as speeches and statements given by Chinese officials which formed the basis of their results.

Among other findings, the report says that China's actions fall in line with Article 2 of the Genocide Convention by showing "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, [a protected group], as such".

Proof of state-sanctioned detainment

Beijing’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims has led to the detention of "between one and two million people" in 1,400 extrajudicial confinement facilities since 2014, the report said.

"While the government claims the new compounds are designed for 'vocational education,' satellite imagery and analysis, government documents, and first-hand accounts clearly demonstrate that they are managed as prisons with varying levels of security," the report found.

"According to government documents, all camps must be designed to prevent any escape, in addition to four other 'preventative measures,' which are 'demanded by [XUAR Party Secretary] Chen Quanguo.'"

Sexual violence, mass birth prevention


The report also explicitly details alleged incidents of psychological and physical torture.

In particular, it details extensive state-led birth prevention policies, occurring both in detention via acts of physical bodily violence and rape, as well as outside those centres in the form of forced medical procedures.

Article two of the UN convention states that part of the "intent to destroy" clause is the imposition of measures "intended to prevent births within the group".

According to the investigation, Uighur Muslims outside the camps "are subjected to sexual violence through coercive birth prevention procedures, including forced sterilization, IUD placements, abortions, and unknown injections or medication stopping menstrual cycles."

These measures, the report finds, are state-sanctioned efforts to prevent the Uighur population from growing, and the situation is yet more violent in detention facilities, where women are subjected to "mass rape, sexual and physical abuse" perpetrated by security officials.
There is significant public evidence, based on government statistics and corroborating testimony, demonstrating that China is engaged in a deliberate and systematic program of preventing Uyghur births in tandem with the mass internment drive.
Government documents from 2019 show that 14-34 per cent of "all married women of childbearing age" in rural Uighur regions were targets of forced sterilisation, many of whom underwent the procedure without knowing about it beforehand.

Camp internment also serves as a strategy of birth prevention. The two most cited reasons for detention are "birth policy violations" and young people of child-bearing age deemed "unsafe", according to the report.

Between 2015 and 2018, growth rates in the two largest Uighur prefectures decreased by 84 per cent, and in 2019 just three per cent of married women of age in two prefectures gave birth.

Cultural erasure and the intent to destroy

Researchers also found that textbooks on Uighur culture were removed from schools in Xinjiang, and camps were hotbeds of cultural brainwashing.

The intent to destroy the Uighurs was also found in explicit detail among Chinese officials.

Camp guards reportedly informed detainees that they were following the orders of a document from the government instructing that the internment system remain in place "until the whole nation, Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and other Muslim nationalities, would disappear ... until all Muslim nationalities would be extinct."

In 2017, the Party Secretary for Yarkand County, where nearly all 900,000 residents are Uighur, gave a speech at a rally in a public square as part of President Xi’s campaign in the region, urging party members to "wipe them out completely … Destroy them root and branch."

The security chief of a township in Kashgar reportedly said, referring to Uighur Muslims, "You can’t uproot all the weeds hidden among the crops in the field one by one—you need to spray chemicals to kill them all … re-educating these people is like spraying chemicals on the crops."

What next for China?

China has consistently denied the existence of internment camps, calling them "re-education centres", and it continues to deny accusations of genocide.

The report by the Newlines Institute for the first time lays out the charges in the context of international law and in relation to a convention of which China is a signatory.

"China bears State responsibility for an ongoing genocide against the Uighur, in breach of the Genocide Convention."

Genocide is illegal under international law, and those charged will have to face an international tribunal.

Speaking to The New Arab, lawyer and co-author of the report, Rayhan E. Asat, hopes this will "galvanise" the international community.
I envision that this independent finding of China's breach of its obligations under the Genocide Convention would galvanize all bystander countries to join the US, Canada, and The Netherlands to finally put a stop to the horrors inflicted on the victims of the concentration camps in the 21st century.

"It has been almost five years since my brother, Ekpar Asat, was illegally imprisoned in one of these camps," Asat said.

"What he and I have been enduring is unimaginable. I hope to see serious diplomatic accountability on the part of every country, especially those Muslim nations that have either remained silent or even endorsed China's genocide.

"The findings and final determination of our study show that the world has no choice but to stand up for what is right."

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