PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release
East Turkistan Government in Exile
+1 (202) 599-2244, Ext: 1
11 November 2021
• A third submission of brand new evidence has been submitted to the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) establishing that the Court has jurisdiction to open an investigation into the crimes being committed against Uyghurs by Chinese authorities.
• The evidence supports the Complaint which was filed on July 6th 2020, and the second submission filed on June 10th 2021, alleging that Chinese authorities are rounding up and forcefully deporting Uyghurs from Tajikistan, an ICC State Party, into China.
• The evidence was gathered through on-the-ground witness interviews in Central Asia including Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan as well as from Turkey.
• The evidence shows that in Tajikistan the Uyghur population decreased by over 85% and in Kyrgyzstan by 87% as a result of forced deportations by Chinese authorities
• The evidence has been submitted following the OTP’s announcement that more evidence was needed to establish that the Court has jurisdiction to open an investigation, given that China is not an ICC State Party.
• The evidence was submitted by a team of lawyers led by Rodney Dixon QC on behalf of The East Turkistan Government in Exile, the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, and Uyghur victims.
THE HAGUE – Today a third dossier of evidence was submitted to the ICC office of the Prosecutor (OTP) asking for an investigation to be opened against Chinese authorities for genocide and other crimes against humanity allegedly being committed against the Uyghur people. This new evidence exposes the extent of Chinese involvement within Tajikistan – an ICC member state – to pursue Uyghurs and have them deported, abducted, and disappeared. It confirms the magnitude of the enforced disappearances occurring on Tajik territory and further underlines that these unlawful acts are the first crucial steps in the alleged genocide and crimes against humanity that continue and are completed in China.
The new evidence has been compiled from compelling ‘insider’ witness testimony. It provides direct and detailed information about how the system to target Uyghurs has been designed and deployed by Chinese officials operating within Tajikistan and other Central Asian states. It shows how these unlawful acts being carried out by Chinese authorities outside of their border in ICC members states like Tajikistan are the first crucial steps in the alleged genocide and crimes against humanity that continue and are completed in China. The ICC has jurisdiction over these continuing international crimes that commence on ICC territory in Tajikistan.
One Uyghur man talks about how he was forced to work with the Chinese authorities in Tajikistan. He recounts especially how the Chinese authorities working inside Tajikistan would pit the Uyghurs against each other creating an environment of mistrust amongst the Uyghur community in the Bazaars in Tajikistan. He confirms that one of the ways employed by the Chinese consulate in Tajikistan to deport Uyghurs “was to create problems with visas and documents.” He tried to speak out about what was going on but this led to his parents being detained and he has never heard from them again. Then the situation got worse for him and he was warned about his imminent deportation, he was shown “a piece of paper where my name appeared. After seven days my residence permit would expire, and I would have to be deported to China.” He was advised “Don’t talk to anyone. Leave the country in seven days.”
Another witness describes similar mistrust fomented amongst the Uyghur communities working in the bazaars in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan where deportations also increased from 2017. He said roughly a quarter of the Uyghurs are informers but no-one knows who the informers are, “They watch where you go. They watch what you spend. They watch how you pray. And they send messages to China about you.” On top of that, “the informers get preferential treatment. [They] don’t have to pay a bribe for passports. We spend three or four days in customs. At the border, the informers pay no taxes.” This witness also provided cogent evidence that from late 2016 onwards, China has operated a similar strategy in Kyrgyzstan to that in Tajikistan including Uyghurs receiving phone calls from relatives in China begging them to go back; the non-renewal of visas; and local police under the command of the Chinese consulate taking Uyghurs to the border, whereupon they are deported by Chinese agents into East Turkistan (so-called “Xinjiang”).
The evidence shows that the Uyghur population in Kyrgyzstan has similarly declined dramatically as has occurred in Tajikistan since 2017 as Uyghurs have been deported to China: in Tajikistan the Uyghur population decreased by over 85% and in Kyrgyzstan by 87%.
All this evidence gives the OTP jurisdiction to open an investigation because the victims first must be arrested, abducted, deported and forcibly disappeared from an ICC member state and then be forced back into China for the murders, imprisonment, torture, persecution and other criminal acts to take place.
Speaking after filing the submission, Rodney Dixon QC said, “It is time to act for justice for the Uyghurs and we are confident that the third dossier of evidence we have submitted to the ICC prosecutor shows that an investigation can and should be opened. Tajikistan as an ICC member State is one of a very few who are signed up to the ICC in central Asia. The evidence in the Uyghur case provides a unique basis for the ICC Prosecutor to initiate an investigation into the countless crimes committed in this part of world. It would extend the ICC’s reach to the region and its role in promoting international justice in all corners of the globe. We ask that the ICC Prosecutor and his team travel to Tajikistan to examine the situation on the ground and open an investigation without further delay.”
Dr Mamtimin Ala, EU Representative of the East Turkistan Government in Exile “Thank you to all the people around the world that have supported the case so far, as Uyghurs we have suffered countless crimes which have been committed against us both physically and psychologically and even though there is a lot global pressure and awareness about it, the Chinese authorities have not stopped. This is why we really need the ICC to open an investigation, we need the crimes to stop and we need to live in peace and without fear”
Mr Salih Hudayer, Prime Minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile “it has been over a year since our lawyers first submitted this complaint to the ICC and in that time so much evidence has been gathered to show that the ICC does have the jurisdiction to open an investigation. We are really hoping that the prosecutor will see all this evidence and decide to open the case. Our people need justice and they need it now before it is too late.”