Hope for Uyghurs
The atrocities against the Uyghurs have been going on for long now. The largely Muslim ethnic group has been at the receiving end and the world bodies too had failed to provide some relief for them.
However, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for these traumatized lot as a group of lawyers presented a dossier of evidence to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) that they say establishes jurisdiction for the global tribunal to investigate allegations that Chinese authorities are involved in grave crimes targeting Uyghurs.
The move is the latest attempt by international human rights lawyers to get an investigation started at the Hague-based court into allegations of atrocities against Uyghurs by China, which is not a member of the court.
Reports from various rights groups have mentioned that Uyghurs have been targeted, rounded up, forcibly disappeared and deported from Tajikistan back into China’s western Xinjiang region by Chinese operatives.
The Chinese authorities have directly intervened in Tajikistan and managed to get those people back who had escaped the tumultuous life under the Chinese governance. The ICC therefore has jurisdiction over these actions which start in Tajikistan and continue into China.
The filing of the report by the group of lawyers seeks to use the legal precedent of an investigation opened by the ICC into allegations of mass deportations and persecution of Rohingya people by Myanmar forces that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya across the border into neighboring Bangladesh.
In the Rohingya case, a panel of ICC judges ruled in 2019 that the court may exercise jurisdiction over crimes when part of the criminal conduct takes place on the territory of a State Party.
In July last year, lawyers representing exiled Uyghur activists asked the ICC to investigate the forced repatriation of thousands of Uighurs from Cambodia and Tajikistan and alleged genocide in Xinjiang. The ICC prosecutors said that there was no basis to proceed at this time with an investigation into the allegations.
An estimated 1 million people or more, most of them Uyghurs have been confined in re-education camps in China’s western Xinjiang region in recent years. Chinese authorities have been accused of imposing forced labor, systematic forced birth control, torture and separating children from incarcerated parents.
Though China has rejected all these allegations and has been terming the camps as vocational training centers to teach the Chinese language, job skills and the law to support economic development and combat extremism.
The filing of the report by the lawyers follows last week’s similar action when a people’s tribunal set up to assess whether China’s alleged rights abuses against the Uyghur people constitute genocide opened in London.
Since these steps have been taken it is now the responsibility of the rights bodies to ensure that the Uyghurs get their piece of justice.