Tribunal: Olympics Host China ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’ Guilty of Genocide

The Uyghur Tribunal, an independent effort by human rights experts and international legal
Kuzzat Altay via Unsplash

The Uyghur Tribunal, an independent effort by human rights experts and international legal scholars to assess the genocide of Uyghur people in the occupied region of East Turkistan, found in a judgment issued Thursday that the occupying force, China, is guilty of genocide beyond a reasonable doubt.

China considers East Turkistan a province known formally as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). For much of the past decade, communist dictator Xi Jinping has implemented policies intended to eradicate Islam, the local religion, and Uyghur language and culture. Evidence suggests that, starting at a major scale in 2017, Chinese officials began trapping Uyghurs and members of other Muslim-majority ethnic groups in concentration camps, where survivors say they faced torture, systematic rape, indoctrination, slavery, and potential execution.

Taking into consideration this evidence, the Uyghur Tribunal also found that China’s Communist Party was guilty of torture and crimes against humanity “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the highest legal standard of proof.

The Tribunal published its judgment less than two months before China assumes one of the world’s highest government honors: hosting the Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded Beijing with hosting duties for the 2022 Winter Games and has enthusiastically rejected calls from the international committee to postpone and relocate the Games. The IOC has also defended China from allegations of human rights abuses unrelated to the genocide in East Turkistan, such as the disappearance of tennis champion Peng Shuai last month after accusing the former head of China’s Olympic Committee, Zhang Gaoli, of raping her.

Genocide, crimes against humanity, and torture are all crimes with distinct definitions in international law. The Tribunal appeared to issue its judgments on the latter two with ease, but hesitated more on the crime of genocide because it did not have evidence of mass exterminations of the kind seen perpetrated against Jewish populations by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.

According to the United Nations, genocide is defined as any of a list of actions taken “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” The definition includes “killing members of this group” but does not require mass killing. Among potential acts constituting genocide are “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” and “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group,” both of which the Tribunal concluded China was guilty of.

The Tribunal’s judgment listed in graphic detail some of the “acts of unconscionable cruelty, depravity, and inhumanity” that the Olympic hosts had subjected members of ethnic minorities to, including: “pulling off fingernails; beating with sticks; detaining in ‘tiger chairs’ where feet and hands were locked in position for hours or days without break; confined in containers up to the neck in cold water; and detained in cages so small that standing or lying was impossible.”

“Women detainees have had their vaginas and rectums penetrated by electric shock rods and iron bars. Women were raped by men paying to be allowed into the detention centre for the purpose,” the Tribunal found. “One young woman of twenty or twenty-one was gang raped by policemen in front of an audience of a hundred people all forced to watch.”

Outside of China’s concentration camps – which Beijing insists are “vocational training” centers – the Tribunal found the widespread use of forced abortions and killing of babies to lower the Uyghur population.

Supporters and members of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement rally outside the White House to urge the United States to end trade deals with China and take action to stop the oppression of the Uyghur and other Turkic peoples August 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Supporters and members of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement rally outside the White House to urge the United States to end trade deals with China and take action to stop the oppression of the Uyghur and other Turkic peoples. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Pregnant women, in detention centres and outside, were forced to have abortions even at the very last stages of pregnancy. In the course of attempted abortions babies were sometimes born alive but then killed,” the judgment read. “A systematic programme of birth control measures had been established forcing women to endure removal against their will of wombs and to undergo effective sterilization by means of IUDs that were only removeable by surgical means.”

The Tribunal listed only two crimes of which China stands accused that it could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt: the killing of Uyghur people to harvest their organs for sale on the black market and mass extermination of adults. Of the former, the Tribunal noted that the lead researcher on the matter, journalist Ethan Gutmann, has found significant circumstantial evidence that the practice is occurring, but has stated that his work is not complete and “does not claim that his theoretical possibility is sufficiently confirmed by incontrovertible evidence.”

The Tribunal also noted that the trafficking in Uyghur organs would be a crime against humanity separate from genocide if proven.

The Tribunal expressed great reserve on its finding that the Chinese government is not killing adult Uyghurs and other minorities en masse, as this is the most commonly understood image of genocide in the understanding of laypeople.

“[T]here is no evidence of organised mass killings,” the Tribunal observed. “Indeed, it is clear that detainees, are allowed back into society, sometimes after as short a period of detention as 3-6 months – often to be detained again – sometimes after long periods in detention and sometimes after sustained torture.”

It nonetheless found China guilty of genocide because it is conducting the mass extermination of Uyghur babies and the legal definition of genocide specifies preventing births as a necessary and sufficient element of the crime.

The Uyghur Tribunal is an independent organization with no legal power. Its judgment repeatedly condemned foreign governments and institutions like the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for failing to do the work of investigating genocide claims.

“The Tribunal feels some unease about making findings of this crime on the basis of evidence that links the crime to the very highest political figure of a country,” the judgment read, confirming that dictator Xi Jinping bears personal responsibility in orchestrating the genocide. “It would seem altogether more appropriate for such things to be dealt with by governments or international organisations. But governments have no courage to do such things; neither does the UN where a powerful state is involved.”

Matt Perdie / Breitbart News

“Had any other official body or court, domestic or international, determined or sought to determine these issues the Tribunal would have been unnecessary and would not have been formed or would have ceased its work – as it has been made plain from the outset,” the judgment asserted.

The Tribunal noted that several countries, including the United States, that have independently accused China of genocide did not bother to aid its efforts. The Tribunal requested that Secretary of State Antony Blinken offer evidence that he used to declare in March that China was committing genocide, for example, but the “request [was] never formally acknowledged and informally denied.”

The extensive documentation organized by the Tribunal, including transcripts of testimonies from former East Turkistan residents and concentration camp victims, may aid international institutions in prosecuting Xi Jinping and other Chinese communists for genocide. The International Criminal Court (ICC), which has jurisdiction over genocide and crimes against humanity charges against individuals, has repeatedly rejected calls from human rights groups to investigate Xi, claiming insufficient evidence exists tying him as an individual to the genocide.

The Tribunal published documents – including speeches by Xi Jinping calling for the regime to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections” – that remove doubt about his role as the architect of the Uyghur genocide. The Tribunal noted that the Communist Party has not contested the authenticity of the leaked documents.

The New York Times, a leftist publication that has engaged in award-winning genocide denial in the past, obtained the same documents but did not publish some of the most damning content about Xi personally, opting instead of evidence more generally implicating the Chinese government.

The IOC has not yet formally responded to the findings of the Tribunal at press time. Faced with calls in the past to relocate the Games, the IOC has insisted it is “not a world government” and thus cannot condemn genocide. The IOC has not only refused to relocate the Games, but refused to discuss matters of human rights with Chinese officials at all.

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