Independent Report Finds Beijing “Bears Responsibility for Ongoing Genocide” in Xinjiang

A newly released report by more than 50 global legal and experts has found that the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang have violated every single provision of the U.N. Genocide Convention. Published by Washington D.C.-based think tank Newslines Institute for Strategy and Policy (formerly the Center for Global Policy), it is the latest study to conclude that China’s ongoing persecution of Uyghurs constitutes an act of genocide. Since the beginning of this year, governments and legislators in the U.S., Canada, and The Netherlands have either designated or voted to recognize the atrocities in the region as genocide, and more countries are moving to debate the label.

CNN’s Ben Westcott and Rebecca Wright reported on key findings from Newslines’ report:

There are five ways in which genocide can take place, according to the convention: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent within the group; or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

[…] While violating just one act in the Genocide Convention would constitute a finding of genocide, the Newlines report claims the Chinese government has fulfilled all criteria with its actions in Xinjiang.
“China’s policies and practices targeting Uyghurs in the region must be viewed in their totality, which amounts to an intent to destroy the Uyghurs as a group, in whole or in part,” the report claimed.

[…] The Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy was founded in 2019 as a nonpartisan think tank by the Fairfax University of America, with a goal to “to enhance US foreign policy based on a deep understanding of the geopolitics of the different regions of the world and their value systems.” It was previously known as the Center for Global Policy. [Source]

While some media outlets including Chinese state media have cast doubt on the credibility of Newslines, citing a report about its sources of funding, other journalists have rebutted the veracity of the accusations against the think tank.

More than 50 international experts contributed to the report, including scholars of Uyghur history and the Xinjiang region such as Darren Byler, Adrian Zenz, and Rian Thum, and eminent legal experts including a former Canadian attorney general and U.N. ambassador, and a former deputy to the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes. CNN reported that the report is the first time an NGO has undertaken an independent legal analysis of the genocide allegations in Xinjiang.

Other legal experts, including several Queens Counsel in the U.K., recently determined that there was a “credible case” that acts carried out by the Chinese government against the Uyghur population amounted to the crime of genocide. That finding has mounted pressure on the British government, which is resisting a push from a parliamentary majority to grant British courts the right to decide if a country is committing genocide.

Separately, members of parliament in Australia and Turkey are pressing for investigations into formally labeling China’s actions in Xinjiang as genocide. Free Asia reported on the moves in the respective countries:

South Australian independent Senator Rex Patrick has proposed a motion for consideration by fellow upper house members that the Senate “agrees that the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang constitutes the crime of genocide,” according to a report by the Guardian Australia.

[…] While Canberra has yet to refer to such abuses as crimes against humanity or genocide, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has called reports of the situation in the region “horrific” and acknowledged an internationally recognized “set of facts … that have caused other governments to respond in the way they have.”

[…] Over the weekend, Turkey’s Opposition Good Party () Chairperson Meral Akşener said her party will request that the country’s parliament recognize the situation in the XUAR as genocide, according to a report by the Daily Sabah. [Source]

While several Western countries have supported designating the genocide label, that move may face headwinds in Turkey. In December 2020, Beijing approved an extradition treaty between China and Turkey. While it awaits ratification in Ankara, as Reuters’ Daren Butler reported this week, Uyghurs living in Turkey have protested the deal, which they fear will lead to cooperation with Chinese authorities to capture and send Uyghurs to detention camps in China:

Joining hundreds of women in Istanbul to protest at China’s treatment of Uighurs, Nursiman Abdurasit tearfully thinks of her jailed mother in Xinjiang and fears that Uighurs like her in Turkey may one day be sent back under an extradition deal.

[…] “China says that what we are doing is a crime, ‘what you are doing is separatism, disparaging the state’,” said Abdurasit, voicing concern about the consequences of the extradition deal waiting in a Turkish parliamentary commission.

“If this agreement is ratified, we could be extradited for this crime. So we are worried,” said the woman, who lives in a small Istanbul flat with her Uighur husband and six-year-old daughter.

[…] However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has denied that the extradition agreement would lead to Uighurs being sent back, describing it as a routine according similar to ones Turkey has with other countries. [Source]

In a possible sign that mounting evidence of atrocities in Xinjiang is generating tangible backlash against companies in the region, Chinese state media reported this week that Xinjiang researcher Adrian Zenz is being sued by unnamed companies in the region. The Washington Post’s Eva Dou reported on the case against Zenz, whose work has been critical to exposing widespread forced labor and other human rights abuses in the region:

Beijing has targeted a high-profile U.S.-based researcher whose work has been critical to exposing human rights abuses in China’s northwest, with state media reporting he is being sued by companies in the Xinjiang region.

In a telephone interview from his home in Minnesota on Tuesday night, Adrian Zenz said he believed the lawsuit was a sign that U.S. economic sanctions on the region were having a significant effect. He said Beijing was probably seeking to create a chilling effect on other researchers doing similar work.

“It is the first admission that they really are suffering major economic losses,” Zenz said. ­“Suing an academic — there is an element of desperation in there.” [Source]

While the legal case against Zenz for his academic work on Xinjiang is unprecedented, sparking possible concerns about a chilling effect on future Xinjiang researcher, George Washington University law professor explained in an article at The China Collection why Zenz and other researchers need not seriously worry about the legal action.

Chinese government officials and state media, alongside other outlets pushing Xinjiang denialism, have frequently employed ad hominem attacks against Zenz, who worked for years as an independent scholar before becoming a fellow with the U.S. nonprofit Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Accusers have sought to undermine the credibility of allegations of atrocities in Xinjiang by attacking Zenz’s credibility without evidence. And while Zenz’s research has produced many groundbreaking investigations into the human rights abuses in the region, many other experts and media organizations—as well as Uyghur people themselves—have also been instrumental in reporting on human rights abuses in the region.

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