Uyghur Tribunal in UK hears testimony on abuses

The Uyghur Tribunal, an "independent people's court" convened by exile and human rights groups, concluded last week after months of hearings in London. Following a request from the World Uyghur Congress,  the Tribunal was organized last year by Sir Geoffrey Nice­, the lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Uyghur Tribunal heard testimony from some 500 witnesses, including survivors of the detention camps in Xinjiang, on torture, sexual abuse, coerced labor, and forced sterilization.

Chinese authorities attempted to block witnesses from appearing at the Tribunal, or intimidate their family members—as did the government of neighboring Kazakhstan. Xinjiang camp survivor Erbakit Otarbay was barred by Kazakh authorities from getting on a flight to London at the Almaty airport, and had to cross by land into Kyrgyzstan before continuing by air to England. His parents in Altay, Xinjiang, subsequently received visits from Chinese security agents, threatening them about the consequences if their son gave evidence.

During the September hearings, Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming held a press conference in which he accused the Tribunal of lying and claimed it was conducting a "pseudo-trial" and a "political manipulation aimed at discrediting China." He also played graphic videos of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang to show that the Chinese government's measures there are "necessary and important." (Coda, The Hill, Haaretz, WaPo)

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors last December rejected a complaint filed by exiled Uighurs calling for an investigation of China on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The complaint was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds; the People's Republic of China, like the United States, does not recognize the ICC.

Uyghurs as pawns in the Great Game —again

We note with frustration that the report from The Hill cited above is written by Ivana Stradner and Bill Drexel, both affiliated with right-wing American Enterprise Institute. Pseudo-left defenders of the Chinese state are certain to jump on this, as they always do jump on right-wing or imperialist exploitation of the Uyghur genocide. The irony is that they themselves are equally a part of a state-orchestrated propaganda campaign—only by the rival imperial power. None of this means the testimony heard at the Uyghur Tribunal should be viewed as inauthentic. Pseudo-leftists who rush to betray the Uyghurs are no less guilty than the righties and imperialists they ostensibly oppose of treating the Uyghurs as pawns in the Great Game.