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Global response needed to halt crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, rights group says

The scale of crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region requires an international response, a rights group has said upon the release of a new report.

The 53-page report, “‘Break Their Lineage, Break Their Roots’: China’s Crimes against Humanity Targeting Uyghurs and Other Turkic Muslims,” was released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on April 19.

In a statement, HRW said it had authored the report with the assistance from Stanford Law School’s Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic.



“It’s increasingly clear that Chinese government policies and practices against the Turkic Muslim population in Xinjiang meet the standard for crimes against humanity under international criminal law,” said Beth Van Schaack, faculty affiliate, Stanford Center for Human Rights & International Justice.

“The government’s failure to stop these crimes, let alone punish those responsible, shows the need for strong and coordinated international action,” she said.

HRW said that crimes against humanity are considered among the gravest human rights abuses under international law.

The rights group said that the Chinese government’s oppression of Turkic Muslims is not a new phenomenon, but in recent years it has reached unprecedented levels. In addition to mass detention and pervasive restrictions on practicing Islam, there is increasing evidence of forced labor, broad surveillance, and unlawful separation of children from their families.

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HRW further added that the Chinese leadership is responsible for widespread and systematic policies of mass detention, torture, and cultural persecution, among other offenses.

Sophie Richardson, China director at HRW, said Chinese authorities have systematically persecuted Turkic Muslims — their lives, their religion, their culture.

“Beijing has said it’s providing ‘vocational training’ and ‘deradicalization,’ but that rhetoric can’t obscure a grim reality of crimes against humanity,” Richardson said.

Pintu masuk fasilitas yang secara resmi disebut sebagai pusat pendidikan keterampilan kejuruan di Dabancheng, Xinjiang, Tiongkok, difoto pada 4 September 2018. (Foto oleh Thomas Peter/Reuters)

The rights group said that a coordinated international action is needed to sanction those responsible, advance accountability, and press the Chinese government to reverse course.

Richardson said it is increasingly clear that a coordinated global response is needed to end China’s crimes against humanity against Turkic Muslims.

“That China is a powerful state makes it all the more important for holding it accountable for its unrelenting abuses,” she said.

HRW said their report draws on newly available information from Chinese government documents, human rights groups, the media, and scholars to assess Chinese government actions in Xinjiang within the international legal framework.

The report noted that the US State Department and the parliaments of Belgium, Canada, and the Netherlands have determined that the Chinese regime’s conduct in Xinjiang also constitutes genocide under international law.

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