PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release
East Turkistan Government in Exile
+1 (202) 599-2244, Ext: 1
20 June 2022
THE HAGUE – Today, a submission of new evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity committed against Uyghurs and other ethnically Turkic people by the Chinese Government was submitted to the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP). This is the third submission of evidence to the ICC since an article 15 Complaint was filed by lawyers on behalf of the East Turkistan Government in Exile and all Uyghur victims in June 2020, requesting the OTP to open an investigation.
This latest submission includes compelling first-hand evidence from a witness who was able to escape from the camps in China in 2018. It shows that the Chinese Government is implementing a policy of rounding up Uyghurs and other ethnically Turkic people from outside China, including ICC member States such as neighbouring Tajikistan, and forcefully deporting them back to China. The new evidence shows that once back in China, they are subjected to genocidal acts and crimes against humanity. The witness explains how he and others detained with him were subjected to lengthy interrogations, torture such as being locked in a ‘tiger chair’ and shocked with electric prods, forced labour, and forced medical procedures such as being injected with unknown substances.
The witness provides details about the Chinese Government’s plan to round up and forcefully deport Uyghurs into China including from Tajikistan. Daily announcements in the camps threatened detainees that they will never be able to escape the reach of the Chinese State if they went abroad, and that they would be tracked down and forced back into China. Names of “wanted” Uyghurs were broadcast on televisions inside the camp alongside announcements and images of people who had been successfully forced back to China. Detainees were promised rewards for any information helping to identify and locate the wanted people. The witness explained in particular how people who had been to Tajikistan were targeted for arrest.
The submission details how this “rounding up” strategy is typical of State authorities that seek to destroy in whole or part another racial, ethnic or religious group. The strategy has parallels to plans in other genocides in which victims were rounded up from where they lived and deported into the territory of the perpetrators, where they would be targeted.
This new testimony corroborates the evidence in previous submissions to the ICC regarding the methods used by Chinese officials to either coerce or force Uyghurs and other persecuted groups back into China including:
- Chinese officials contacting a victim’s family in China to demand that the person return;
- Refusal to renew visas and other documents so that they can no longer remain in a foreign country, and can then be forcefully removed;
- Direct threats to cause “a lot of problems” for family members still in China and;
- Confirmation that Uyghurs are under close surveillance by officials in the foreign country.
Previous submissions have provided evidence of Chinese officials rounding up and forcefully deporting Uyghurs specifically from neighbouring Tajikistan, which is an ICC member State. As the rounding up of Uyghurs and their subsequent forced deportation took place in an ICC member State, the OTP therefore has the jurisdiction to open an investigation into the whole crime including what happens once in Chinese territory.
There is also new evidence from two other Uyghur witnesses who fled from Tajikistan in 2018. Both witnesses, now living in Istanbul, describe heavy Chinese pressure and influence in Tajikistan especially amongst the police and immigration officials. One of the witnesses who was able to flee Tajikistan before being deported to China said that the Tajik police told him, “we are sending you back because you are Uyghur. It does not matter if you have a valid visa, we must send all Uyghurs back. We have been moving a lot of Uyghurs to China already, we will do the same with you”. The other witness, when describing how he fled Tajikistan through Uzbekistan said, “everybody knows that flying directly from Tajikistan is not safe: they can deport you from Tajik airports”.
The recent “Xinjiang Police Files”, which were leaked in May 2022 and verified and published by Adrian Zenz have been relied on in the submission to show the responsibility of Chinese officials at the top of the CCP. The files include speeches in which officials state plainly that their actions are “approved by General Secretary Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang”.
Finally the submission highlights the lack of meaningful action by other international bodies, specifically citing the widely-criticised report and statements released by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet following her recent visit to the region. The submission contends that the report by Bachelet should not replace a thorough forensic investigation of the crimes committed against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples.
Speaking after filing the submission of new evidence, Rodney Dixon QC said, “The evidence has uncovered a pervasive plan to round up Uyghurs in neighbouring countries, including an ICC member State, and elsewhere, to force them back into China. It also very sadly shows what happens to them once back in detention camps. The ICC has jurisdiction over these crimes that commence on ICC territory and continue into China, and is urged to act immediately to open an investigation. The gravity of mass deportations and disappearances has rightly been recognised by the ICC Prosecutor in stating that his Office will gather evidence of Ukrainians being sent into Russia – similarly such evidence should be assembled and reviewed by the ICC for Uyghurs and others being forced into China from ICC territories.”
Salih Hudayar, the Prime Minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile said, “We are running out of time. If the ICC does not act soon to open this investigation there may no longer be any Uyghurs left to help. Our people are being killed, tortured and brutalized and the world is just watching as it happens. We need action urgently.”