Uyghur Tribunal alleges China-sponsored genocide in appended judgment
Paul Keller, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Uyghur Tribunal alleges China-sponsored genocide in appended judgment

The Uyghur Tribunal, a self-described “people’s tribunal” established in the UK, Tuesday appended a December 2021 judgment, incorporating nearly 300 additional pages of historical background, definitions and evidence. The stated purpose of the tribunal is to investigate “ongoing atrocities and possible genocide against the Uyghur people” in the People’s Republic of China, though the tribunal has no force of law.

The judgment found that “in Xinjiang and at the hands of some part or parts” of the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims have been detained. Many of the detained have been tortured: beat with sticks, fingernails pulled off, some are shackled by heavy weights, immobilized for months on end. Detained women and men have been raped and starved, and those fortunate enough to avoid crowded cages are subjected to solitary confinement.

Genocide, as defined by the UN in Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, generally, as killing, harming or otherwise imposing measures to prevent births or evoke death to members of a “national, ethnical, racial or religious group” with intent to destroy. The convention was the first human rights treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly.

While the alleged acts were sufficient for the tribunal to conclude that crimes against humanity have been committed, genocide was found more difficult to prove as there is no evidence of mass killings.

The judgment notes that, unlike treatment of Jews during the Holocaust, the Uyghurs are allowed to return to society. However, the judgment notes that, coinciding with mass detention, mosques have been destroyed and religious symbols suppressed. Those who use the Uyghur language in public are punished, and child separation from families is common. The judgment states that, in some cases, Han Chinese men are “imposed on Uyghur households” to monitor and report behavior. Society on the outside, while less torturous, seems no less oppressive.

In light of the atrocities, the judgment’s footnotes contained an encouraging proposition: “[I]f humanity is single across the globe, then universal human rights anywhere engage obligations not just of governments but of citizens everywhere who can only do their best to ensure rights are enjoyed by others if properly informed.”

The footnotes continued, “Geographical proximity does not strengthen, and geographical distance does not dilute, the duty humans owe to humans anywhere; at most distance affects ability to act.”