China’s actions in Xinjiang could be crimes against humanity, rights group says
By Cate Cadell and Stephanie Nebehay
BEIJING / GENEVA, April 19 (Reuters) – Human Rights Watch said on Monday that China’s actions in Xinjiang may meet criteria for crimes against humanity, calling for a UN investigation into “widespread” abuse and for companies to flee products made in the region. .
The US-based activist group said there was evidence of blatant abuse taking place against Turkish Muslims, which includes Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz. China has always denied all accusations of abuse in Xinjiang.
“Given the gravity of the abuses against Turkish Muslims, it is urgent that the governments concerned take strong and coordinated action to advance accountability,” Human Rights Watch said.
Experts from the United Nations and human rights groups say China has detained more than one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang since 2017 as part of a widespread crackdown on the nation. region.
The report cites cases of torture, enforced disappearances, labor transfers, sexual violence and other evidence-based abuses, including testimonies, government documents and media reports.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said the crimes were among the most serious under international law.
“The governments concerned should impose targeted sanctions – visa bans, economic restrictions and the like. They should pursue criminal prosecutions under the concept of universal jurisdiction,” he told a press conference.
Companies that cannot guarantee that their supply chains for textiles or other products were not manufactured using forced labor in Xinjiang should stop doing business there, according to the report.
Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said: “We really think this is a very important time for anyone doing business in the region to stop and think very carefully about whether their operations are truly free from serious human rights violations. “
The report provides a legal framework for how Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang could meet the criteria for crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In December, the ICC said it would not pursue an investigation into the mass detentions because the alleged crimes took place in China, which is not a party to the Hague-based tribunal.
Several Western governments have imposed sanctions for alleged rights violations against China, which has said it will not allow an independent investigation into its programs in Xinjiang.
Chinese officials initially denied the mass detentions, but have since said people participate in voluntary vocational training and de-radicalization programs, and have since “graduated.”
In March, the European Union, the United States, Britain and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang. China has responded with corresponding sanctions against several lawmakers, researchers and institutions.
Beijing called Uyghur witnesses overseas “actors” and said efforts to investigate Chinese policy in Xinjiang are being led by “anti-Chinese forces,” primarily in the United States.
(Reporting by Cate Cadell in Beijing and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Neil Fullick and Rosalba O’Brien)
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