Uighurs urge ICC to probe Chinese ‘genocide’

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THE HAGUE, July 7, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Exiled Uighurs urged the
International Criminal Court on Tuesday to investigate China for
genocide and crimes against humanity, filing a huge dossier of
evidence with the Hague-based court to back their case.

The evidence handed to the ICC’s prosecutor accuses China of
locking more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim
minorities in re-education camps and of forcibly sterilising women.

China has called the forced sterilisation accusations baseless and
says the facilities in the northwestern Xinjiang region are job
training centres aimed at steering people away from terrorism.

“Today is a very historic day for us.” Salih Hudayar, prime
minister of the self-styled East Turkestan government in exile, told a
virtual press conference held in Washington and The Hague.

China is not an ICC member but lawyers for the Uighurs said the
court could follow the example of its ongoing probe into the treatment
of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar, which is also not party to the
tribunal.

ICC judges ruled in 2018 that the Rohingya investigation could go
ahead because the situation in Myanmar affects people in neighbouring
Bangladesh, which is a member of the ICC.

Rodney Dixon, a London-based human rights lawyer for the Uighurs,
said it was a “historic breakthrough” and “hopefully a turning of the
tide as the ICC can now act.”

The evidence filed with the court showed that China was guilty of
“harsh repressive measures” over more than a decade, he told the press
conference from The Hague.

“These include mass internments in excess of a million people,
murders, disappearances, torture, and harrowing accounts of
sterilisations and birth control measures,” said Dixon.

The dossier includes a list of senior Chinese Communist Party
members who are allegedly responsible for the treatment of the Uighurs
including President Xi Jinping.

Dixon said following the example of the Myanmar case begun by the
ICC prosecutor last year showed there was a “clear way which allows
the ICC to exercise jurisdiction.”

The case was possible because crimes including forced deportations
back to China happened in Tajikistan and Cambodia, which are both ICC
members, the dossier filed by the exiles says.

The ICC has no obligation to consider complaints filed to the
prosecutor, who decides independently what cases to submit to judges
at the court, set up in 2002 to achieve justice for the world’s worst
crimes.