Why UN Report On China Steers Clear Of “Genocide” In Xinjiang

Why UN Report on China Directs Elimination of 'Genocide' in Xinjiang

Campaigners have long accused China of abuses in the far west.


The UN report detailing China’s egregious human rights abuses in its Xinjiang region suggests there may be crimes against humanity but not genocide – a heinous crime. hard to prove in international law.

As the report continues to be scrapped on Saturday, several countries are looking at how they can take these findings further.

The crime of genocide includes not only the act of destroying a particular group, but also a second component: proven intent.

Nikita White, of Amnesty International Australia, told AFP the UN report’s conclusions were “really strong and really serious”.

However, “to accuse genocide, the UN needs to prove intent. And that’s really difficult … when access to Xinjiang is restricted.”

‘Information available’

Campaigners have long accused China of numerous abuses in the far west, including the detention of more than a million Uighurs and other Muslims, and the forced sterilization of women.

Meanwhile, the United States and lawmakers in other Western countries have publicly accused China of committing genocide against the Xinjiang minority.


For US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the report “deepens and reaffirms our grave concern about ongoing genocide”.

There were hopes that the UN’s findings would lend credence to such allegations, but were vehemently denied by Beijing.

The long-awaited United Nations report documented a wide range of violations, showing that the torture allegations were credible, citing forced medical treatment and showing that a significant proportion of the population Islamic numbers have been included in the so-called Vocational Education and Training Center (VETC).

It said the extent to which arbitrary detention and discrimination “could constitute an international crime, in particular crimes against humanity”.

Crimes against humanity are classified alongside genocide and war crimes as atrocities in international law.

But the report made no mention of the word genocide, something Beijing was quick to grasp.

“Even this unreliable illegal report dares not exaggerate the so-called fallacy of genocide,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.

UN human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani stressed that “we do not make our own judgment on that particular issue”.

“The available information judged by our standards does not allow us to do so at this time,” she told AFP.

But for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the report “deepens and reaffirms our grave concern about the ongoing genocide”.

Where to go next is sure to come up at the session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which begins September 12.

‘Destruction Intent’

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted after World War II, codified the crime of genocide for the first time.

It was the first human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

It defines “acts performed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”.

This could be through the killing of group members, but it could also be through other methods, including birth control measures, forced transfer of children, or deliberate encroachment on living conditions. aimed at the physical destruction of a group.

However, this definition includes not only the acts performed but also the purpose, which is “the most difficult factor to determine”, according to a United Nations document on the convention.

It says: “Cultural destruction is not enough.

“It is this particular intention … that makes the crime of genocide so unique.”

Detailed population change report

Although the report did not mention genocide, it did document population changes in the region, using official Chinese figures.

Outnumbering 10 in 1953, the Han are now roughly on par with the Uighurs, largely as a result of westward migration, including as a result of government incentives.

The report details recent changes in birth control policy allowing Han Chinese in Xinjang to have more reproductive rights than before, and notes a halving of the “unusual and marked” birth rate in the region. region, especially among the Uyghurs.

It also commented on the “unusually strong increase” in sterilization rates in the region, which is seven times higher than the national average.

“There are credible indications of reproductive rights violations through enforcement of family planning policies since 2017,” the report concludes.

It also notes that controversial VETCs have been established in the region that has, in Chinese parlance, “wiped out a breeding ground” for the spread of religious extremism.

Threat of genocide?

The United Nations Office for the Prevention of Genocide, based in New York, assesses whether there is a risk of atrocities occurring in a particular situation, with the goal of preventing or stopping such crimes. there.

The NGO supporting the Uyghur Human Rights Project wants the office to conduct an immediate risk assessment – including genocide – following the report.

“Although (the report) doesn’t talk about genocide, I think Uyghur groups or researchers would call it genocide,” Peter Irwin of the group told AFP.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a collaborative feed.)

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