Uighur groups take China to International Criminal Court | 10 points

Below is an article published by India Today, Photo ETNAM

China is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC). For long, this abstention from membership acted as a shield for China preventing it from being dragged to the international judicial body over complaints of systemic human rights violation despite irrefutable evidence.

1. Now, two groups of exiled Uighurs have filed a petition before The Hague-based ICC seeking investigation against China and its leadership, including President Xi Jinping, on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

2. The petitioners — the East Turkistan Government in-exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement – have accused China and its leaders torturing Uighurs in Cambodia and Tajikistan.

3. The Uighur activists have cited the decisions of the International Criminal Court delivered in 2018 and 2019 to build their case against China, Xi Jinping and others. In these decisions, the ICC held that its jurisdiction can be extended to investigate a non-member country if the country’s role comes under the scanner for crimes committed in member countries.

4. It was under this principle that cases against Myanmar were admitted in the ICC in connection with the crimes committed against Rohingya. These cases directly pertained to the crimes that allegedly took place in Bangladesh, which is a member of the ICC while Myanmar is not.

5. In the current case, the petitioners have submitted evidence to the ICC stating that Uighur people were illegally deported from Tajikistan and Cambodia to Xinjiang province of China where they have been imprisoned, tortured, forced sterilised, and married off against their will.

6. Tajikistan and Cambodia are ICC signatories and therefore a case against China can be taken up even if it is not a member. China has drawn international flak over its repressive policies against Uighur people in Xinjiang, particularly after Xi Jinping paid a visit to the province and gave what are now called “secret speeches” laying guidelines for action against Uighurs.

7. Experts on China have been gathering evidence of crimes against Uighur people through eyewitness accounts, satellite imagery and leaked government orders. But the international community has felt restricted in acting against China in the absence of any legal provisions to invoke against it. China, on the other hand, has termed the Uighur issue as its internal affair.

8. Recently, German anthropologist and an expert on China, Adrian Zenz released a report detailing how China is forcing Uighur women to control population of the ethnic group. Researcher Zenz has called it the largest incarceration of an ethnic-religious minority since the Holocaust.

9. Published in the Foreign Policy, the report says with its policy of suppression of Uighur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, China now meets the United Nations definition of genocide. Zenz report says more than 15 lakh people are victims of Chinese repression policies.

10. In the wake of a growing body of evidence of Chinese suppression of Uighur people, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in June-end called upon the Communist Party of China to “cease its campaign of repression”. Pompeo appealed to the international community to act against China over its treatment of Uighur people.