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First independent report into Xinjiang genocide allegations claims evidence of Beijing's 'intent to destroy' Uyghur people

   March 9, 2021 8:50 PM
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by Ben Westcott and Rebecca Wright, CNN

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Asia Xinjiang
Hong Kong (CNN)The Chinese government's alleged actions in Xinjiang have violated every single provision in the United Nations' Genocide Convention, according to an independent report by more than 50 global experts in international law, genocide and the China region.

The report, released Tuesday by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy think tank in Washington DC, claimed the Chinese government "bears state responsibility for an ongoing genocide against the Uyghur in breach of the (UN) Genocide Convention." It is the first time a non-governmental organization has undertaken an independent legal analysis of the accusations of genocide in Xinjiang, including what responsibility Beijing may bear for the alleged crimes. An advance copy of the report was seen exclusively by CNN. Up to 2 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are believed to have been placed in a sprawling network of detention centers across the region, according to the US State Department, where former detainees allege they were subjected to indoctrination, sexually abused and even forcibly sterilized. China denies allegations of human rights abuses, saying the centers are necessary to prevent religious extremism and terrorism.Speaking at a press conference on March 7, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said allegations of a genocide in Xinjiang "couldn't be more preposterous."

On January 19, the outgoing Trump administration declared the Chinese government was committing genocide in Xinjiang. A month later, the Dutch and Canadian parliaments passed similar motions despite opposition from their leaders. Azeem Ibrahim, director of special initiatives at Newlines and co-author of the new report, said there was "overwhelming" evidence to support its allegation of genocide. "This is a major global power, the leadership of which are the architects of a genocide," he said.

Genocide Convention The four-page UN Genocide Convention was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948 and has a clear definition of what constitutes "genocide." China is a signatory to the convention, along with 151 other countries. Article II of the convention states genocide is an attempt to commit acts "with an intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." 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 births within the group; or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Since the convention was introduced in 1948, most convictions for genocide have occurred in the International Criminal Tribunals held by the UN, such as those for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, or in national courts. In 2006, former dictator Saddam Hussein was found guilty of genocide in a court in Iraq. However any establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal would require the approval of the UN Security Council, of which China is a permanent member with veto power, making any hearing on the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang unlikely. 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. A separate report published on February 8 by Essex Court Chambers in London, which was commissioned by the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur Human Rights Project, reached a similar conclusion that there is a "credible case" against the Chinese government for genocide. No specific penalties or punishments are laid out in the convention for states or governments determined to have committed genocide. But the Newlines report said that under the convention, 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 added.

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