Beijing blows up ‘Uyghur court’ investigating human rights in Xinjiang | Voice of America
WASHINGTON – China criticizes a process called the “Uyghur Tribunal,” a quasi-judicial effort by opponents of the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslim minorities aimed at exposing evidence of alleged human rights violations.
At a September 9 press conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that “it doesn’t matter how many ‘actors or actresses’ he recruits and how many number of “hearings” he arranges is nothing more than a kangaroo court and a futile attempt. ”
“It has nothing to do with law, justice or truth, and is just another staged farce to smear and attack Xinjiang,” Zhao told reporters, calling the members of the court. of clowns.
The “tribunal” heard from 38 witnesses in its first round of hearings in June at Church House, London. This event focused on alleged rights violations in the northwestern region of Xinjiang in China. The second round of hearings is scheduled for September 10 to 13, according to organizers.
Led by Sir Geoffrey Nice, a prominent lawyer and expert in international criminal law, the nine “jurors” include academics, medical and business practitioners, diplomats and lawyers, according to Nick Vetch, vice-president of the tribunal.
A team of six lawyers help collect and present evidence. They are British, French, German, Iranian and Maltese nationals.
By the end of the year, jurors plan to deliver a “verdict” on China’s actions in Xinjiang.
“[It’s] not possible for allegations against the PRC [People’s Republic of China] be reviewed by a formal tribunal such as the International Court of Justice, and it has not been dealt with by states, and so it is up to citizens to research and answer these questions of such seriousness, ”said Vetch to VOA.
Some countries like the United States as well as rights organizations like Amnesty International accuse China of genocide and crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.
Among other things, they report arbitrary detentions of around 1 million people and reports of forced labor and involuntary sterilization.
China denies abusing Uyghurs, saying they receive vocational training and language skills. Beijing says residents of Xinjiang are free to choose their jobs.
In December 2020, the International Criminal Court said it would not investigate because China, like the United States, is not a party to the Rome Statute, a treaty that defines the jurisdictional scope of the ICC.
“The tribunal is simply looking in fact and in law to answer whether crimes against humanity and / or genocide have taken place or are occurring,” Vetch told VOA. The final judgment will be rendered before the end of this year.
“The June hearing was focused on factual evidence,” Vetch said. “The September hearing is focused on expert testimony, with some 24 experts and nine fact witnesses.”
Rahime Mahmut, UK Project Director of the Uyghur World Congress (WUC) supports the tribunal by interpreting and translating the testimony.
She told VOA Mandarin that in the absence of a formal tribunal, it is important to have independent review and evidence gathering.
“Once the court renders its judgment, we will have a credible legal ruling on the persecution of the Uyghur people by the Chinese regime,” Mahmut said.
According to Hamid Sabi, head of the team of six lawyers, the body was created at the request of Dolkun Isa, president of the WUC.
China has been repeatedly invited to participate in the process, but the organizers have received no response.
“We are not presenting a case for or against China,” Sabi told VOA. “The members of the tribunal and the team of lawyers are the same as for the June hearing. ”
Zhao from the Foreign Ministry called the WUC a separatist organization and Isa called a terrorist listed by the Chinese government. “These so-called ‘chairmen’, ‘experts’ and ‘witnesses’ have deplorable backgrounds and are habitual liars,” Zhao accused, “who have become the laughing stock of the international community a long time ago.”
Isa, a witness in the first round, confirmed to VOA Mandarin that the tribunal was set up following his request but maintained that it is independent.
“The tribunal acts independently, although the WUC closely supports the hearings by arranging for Uyghur witnesses and translation, among other things,” Isa said.
Teng Biao, a Chinese human rights lawyer in the United States and an expert witness in the second court hearings, said the Chinese Communist Party still tries to discredit witnesses and survivors to cover up the truth.
The Uyghur court, he said, “plays a very important role in at least revealing the truth and the nature of the crime.”