The Chinese government’s actions in its northwestern Xinjiang province have violated every provision in the United Nations’ Genocide Convention, according to an independent report by more than 50 global experts in human rights, war crimes, and international law.
The report, published Tuesday by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy think tank in Washington, D.C., claimed the Chinese government “bears state responsibility for an ongoing genocide against” the Uighurs “in breach of the (UN) Genocide Convention.”
It is the first time a non-governmental organization has undertaken an independent legal investigation into the accusations of genocide in Xinjiang, according to CNN, who exclusively received an advanced copy of the report.
“China’s policies and practices targeting [Uighurs] in the region must be viewed in their totality, which amounts to an intent to destroy the [Uighurs] as a group, in whole or in part,” the report said.
Up to 2 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are estimated to have been detained in a network of detention centers throughout the region, according to Axios.
Furthermore, numerous reports and testimonies suggest the authoritarian government is specifically targeting the Muslim-majority population with actions such as forbidding public prayer and surveilling mosques.
Former detainees claim they were indoctrinated, sexually abused, and forcibly sterilized at these reeducation camps, according to reports.
Back in June, an Associated Press investigation also concluded that China was committing “demographic genocide” through forced sterilization and abortions.
China has denied these allegations, saying the centers are necessary to prevent religious “extremism” and terrorism. During a Sunday press conference, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi slammed the allegations.
“The claim that there is genocide in Xinjiang couldn’t be more preposterous,” he said. “It is just a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives, and a lie through and through.”
Adopted in December 1948 following the end of World War II and the Holocaust, the U.N. Genocide Convention is considered the international legal standard for what constitutes “genocide.” China, alongside 151 other member nations, is a signatory to the convention.
The Newlines Institute report mostly looks at Article II of the Genocide Convention, which defines genocide as an attempt to commit acts “with an intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Following the convention’s adoption, it has been the basis for international tribunals against genocide perpetrators such as those in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, which occurred in the International Criminal Tribunals held by the U.N. Some convictions occur in national courts, such as an Iraqi one in 2006 finding former dictator Saddam Hussein guilty of genocide.
However, establishing an international tribunal under the convention would require approval from the U.N. Security Council. Further complicating matters, China is a permanent member of the council with veto power, making any U.N. debate on genocide accusations in Xinjiang incredibly unlikely.
The convention, it should be noted, does not outline specific penalties or punishments for states or governments found to have committed genocide. Although, the Newlines report said that under the agreement, the other 151 signatories have a responsibility to act.
“China’s obligations […] to prevent, punish and not commit genocide are erga omnes, or owed to the international community as a whole,” the report stated.
On January 19, the final full day of the Trump administration, then-outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a declaration calling China’s actions in Xinjiang as “genocide,” making the United States the first country to formally do so. Pompeo’s successor, Antony Blinken, has said he agrees with the genocide designations, meaning the Biden administration will likely not rescind it.
Following suit last month, Canada and the Netherlands’ parliaments passed non-binding resolutions labeling China’s repression of Uighurs as genocide.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent
China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.
But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”
The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients. According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”
Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.
The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.
Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.
The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”
Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.
According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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