- Pubblicato Martedì, 23 Febbraio 2021 14:28
Canada's House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly to declare China's treatment of its Uighur minority population a genocide.
The motion - which passed 266 to 0 - was supported by all opposition parties and a handful of lawmakers from the governing Liberal Party.
Prime Minister Justice Trudeau and most members of his cabinet abstained.
The motion makes Canada just the second country after the United States to recognise China's actions as genocide.
Lawmakers also voted to pass an amendment asking Canada to call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing "if the Chinese government continues this genocide".
China responded late on Tuesday, saying it condemned and rejected Canada's motion, according to a Reuters report. It quoted foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin as saying that China had lodged "stern representations" with Canada.
Mr Trudeau has so far been hesitant to label China's actions against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang a genocide, calling the term "extremely loaded" and saying further examination was needed before a decision could be made.
Just one member of his cabinet, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, appeared in parliament for the vote. Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Garneau said he had abstained "on behalf of the government of Canada".
Speaking ahead of the vote, opposition leader Erin O'Toole said the move was necessary to send a "clear and unequivocal signal that we will stand up for human rights and the dignity of human rights, even if it means sacrificing some economic opportunity".
In an open letter to Mr Trudeau earlier this month asking him to "stand up to China", Mr O'Toole noted the recent banning of BBC World News from China - a decision that followed a BBC report alleging systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture in China's "re-education" camps in Xinjiang.
Monday's non-binding motion marks the latest escalation in Canada-China relations, which have soured over recent years.
China's ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu had earlier told the Canadian Press that the motion was "interfering in [China's] domestic affairs".
"We firmly oppose that because it runs counter to facts," he said. "There's nothing like genocide happening in Xinjiang at all."
Rights groups believe that China has detained up to a million Uighurs over the past few years in what the state defines as "re-education camps".
BBC investigations suggest that Uighurs are being used as forced labour.
Canada's symbolic motion does not lay out next steps, but says the Canadian government needs to follow the lead of its US neighbours.
Both the current and former US Secretaries of State, Anthony Blinken and Mike Pompeo, have declared that China's policies against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in its western Xinjiang region constitute genocide.
- Pubblicato Martedì, 23 Febbraio 2021 14:05
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s parliament passed a non-binding motion on Monday saying China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region constitutes genocide, putting pressure on Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to follow suit.
Canada’s House of Commons voted 266-0 for the motion brought by the opposition Conservative Party. Trudeau and his Cabinet abstained from the vote, although Liberal backbenchers widely backed it.
The motion was also amended just before the vote to call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing if the treatment continues.
Trudeau’s Conservative rivals have been pressuring him to get tougher on China. After Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in 2018 on a U.S. warrant, China detained two Canadians on spying charges, igniting bilateral tensions that still linger.
China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, and which others have called concentration camps. Beijing denies accusations of rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Citing testimony, documents and media reports of human rights abuses against Uighurs, Conservative lawmaker Michael Chong said: “We can no longer ignore this. We must call it for what it is — a genocide.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday the motion “disregards facts and common sense”, adding that Beijing had “lodged stern representations” with Canada.
Cong Peiwu, the Chinese ambassador to Ottawa, denied accusations of genocide.
“Western countries are in no position to say what the human rights situation in China looks like,” Cong said in an interview before the vote. “There is no so-called genocide in Xinjiang at all.”
Trudeau has been reluctant to use the word genocide, suggesting that seeking broad consensus among Western allies on Chinese human rights issues would be the best approach.
“Moving forward multilaterally will be the best way to demonstrate the solidarity of Western democracies ... that are extremely concerned and dismayed by reports of what’s going on in Xinjiang,” Trudeau said on Friday after speaking to fellow G7 leaders.
Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a virtual bilateral meeting on Tuesday afternoon, and relations with China are likely to be discussed, a government source said.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump - on his last full day in office last month - said China had committed “genocide and crimes against humanity” by repressing Uighur Muslims.
The Biden administration is trying to ensure that the genocide declaration is upheld, according to his pick to be ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Reporting by Steve Scherer; Additional reporting by Julie Gordon,and Cate Cadell in Beijing; Editing by Peter Cooney and Gareth Jones
- Pubblicato Martedì, 16 Febbraio 2021 22:09
Treatment of ethnic minority ‘one of most egregious human tragedies since Holocaust’
More than 50 Irish faith leaders have signed a statement condemning the persecution of the Uighurs and other Muslims in China.
Included among the signatories are: Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin; five Catholic bishops, Alan McGuckian, Fintan Monaghan, Larry Duffy, Phonsie Cullinan and Leo O’Reilly; Rabbi Zalman Lent of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation; Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council; and Rev Myozan Kodo Kilroy of Zen Buddhism Ireland.
Other signatories include: Sr Stanislaus Kennedy; Mother Marie Fahy, abbess at St Mary’s Abbey at Glencairn, Co Waterford; Dean of Waterford Maria Jansson; Sr Kathleen McGarvey, provincial leader at Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles; Rev Prof Anne Lodge, director of the Church of Ireland centre at Dublin City University; and Canon Elaine Murray, rector of Carrigaline Union of Parishes in Cork.
They said: “As religious leaders and leaders of belief-based communities in Ireland, we join with our counterparts in Britain and elsewhere in affirming human dignity for all by highlighting one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust: the potential genocide of the Uighurs and other Muslims in China.”
The group said they had “seen many persecutions and mass atrocities. These need our attention. But there is one that, if allowed to continue with impunity, calls into question most seriously the willingness of the international community to defend universal human rights for everyone – the plight of the Uighurs.”
At least “one million Uighur and other Muslims in China are incarcerated in prison camps facing starvation, torture, murder, sexual violence, slave labour and forced organ extraction. Outside the camps, basic religious freedom is denied. Mosques are destroyed, children are separated from their families and acts as simple as owning a holy Koran, praying or fasting can result in arrest,” they said.
“The clear aim of the Chinese authorities is to eradicate the Uighur identity,” the group said, pointing out that “as faith leaders we are neither activists nor policymakers”.
They recalled how “after the Holocaust, the world said ‘never again’. Today, we repeat those words ‘never again’, all over again. We stand with the Uighurs. We also stand with Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners and Christians throughout China who face the worst crackdown on freedom of religion or belief since the cultural revolution.”
There was “a simple call for justice, to investigate these crimes, hold those responsible to account and establish a path towards the restoration of human dignity”, the religious leaders concluded.
- Pubblicato Martedì, 16 Febbraio 2021 16:46
Ewelina U. Ochab, joined several lawyers and genocide scholars challenging the recent piece published by the Economist. Read it here:
Letter to the Economist
On February 13, 2021, The Economist ran a piece, “Genocide” is the wrong word for the horrors of Xinjiang, making several claims that are erroneous and need to be addressed. Genocide is not a word that should be used lightly. However, it does not mean that it should not be used. Indeed, where the elements of the legal definition are met (as per Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention)), the crimes should be labelled exactly for what they are.
‘Genocide’ as defined by the Genocide Convention and customary international law (and indeed US domestic law) does not necessarily entail the immediate destruction of the group by ‘mass slaughter.’ Destruction of the group (in whole or in part) must be the intended result, but this may be achieved in a number of ways. In the case of the Uyghurs, in terms of the legal test, allegations include killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group (including physical abuse, rape and sexual violence), deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to destroy the group (by way of concentration camps, forced labour and other atrocities as a whole), imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group (by way of forced sterilisations, forced abortions, and also rape), forcibly transferring Uyghur children to another group. These acts are supported by evidence of the specific intent to destroy this ethno-religious group. This is in addition that to the fact that the specific intent can be inferred from the pattern and systemic nature of the atrocities. Understandably, each element of genocide has to be scrutinised in consideration of all the available evidence. It is wrong to claim that the US Administration woke up one day and decided to call the atrocities against the Uyghurs genocide. Indeed, the State Department has been working on the topic for months and uphold their own obligations between parties.
In a perfect world, the allegations of genocide against the Uyghurs would be considered by an international court or tribunal or a specially established UN investigative mechanism, but this has not been done and it is unlikely to happen, given China’s powerful position at the UN and reservations to, or non-membership of, relevant treaties. This, however, does not preclude States making their own determination. In fact, States, as the duty holder under the Genocide Convention, must make such determinations to inform they responses.
The article misses the fact that the Genocide Convention imposes certain duties upon States: the duty to prevent and punish.
The duty to prevent genocide is extensive and critical. As the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina v Serbia and Montenegro clarified, the duty to prevent: ‘Arise[s] at the instant that the State learns of, or should normally have learned of, the existence of a serious risk that genocide will be committed.’ If this is the case, States must conduct their monitoring, analysis and determination of at least the serious risk of genocide very early on – in order to engage their duties. This ultimately means that States need to engage with considerations surrounding the legal elements of genocide and/or risk factors, as for example, per the UN Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes and Jacob Blaustein Institute’s Compilation of Risk Factors and Legal Norms for the Prevention of Genocide. As such, where, after the analysis of all relevant evidence, States conclude that the evidence indicates commission of genocide or a serious risk of genocide, such an analysis should not be disregarded as an ‘exaggeration’ or ‘rhetorical escalation.’
In order to ‘punish genocide’, States must introduce domestic laws to give effect to the Genocide Convention, including, criminalising genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, and complicity in genocide. This is where meeting the precise elements of the crime are crucial as otherwise the charges would not stand.
It accomplishes nothing to reject such an analysis of the evidence and using euphemisms out of fear of upsetting the state perpetrating genocide. There are practical effects of a determination. Indeed, and again, as per the ICJ, once the state learns or should have learned about the serious risk of genocide, ‘from that moment onwards, if the State has available to it means likely to have a deterrent effect on those suspected of preparing genocide, or reasonably suspected of harbouring specific intent (dolus specialis), it is under a duty to make such use of these means as the circumstances permit.’
Claims that an analysis of the situation is an ‘exaggeration’ or ‘rhetorical escalation’, and this without any evidence in support, means that States may well evade acting upon their duties claiming that the trigger for the duty to prevent is not reached. That has too often been the case as the world watches genocides take place.
In a world where genocide still occurs, despite the promises of Never Again, inaction is not an option. We need to ensure that we are equipped to prevent genocide as the cost of allowing it is too great: it is the cost of lives and it is also the cost of our humanity.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute
Ewelina U. Ochab, Co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response
Zachary D. Kaufman, JD, PhD, Associate Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Houston Law Centre
Kyle Matthews, Executive Director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University
John Packer, Neuberger-Jesin Professor of International Conflict Resolution at the Faculty of Law and Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa
Michael Polak, Barrister, Lawyers for Uyghur Rights, Committee World Uyghur Congress London Office
Nury Turkel, Attorney, Co-founder and Board Chair of the Uyghur Human Rights Project
Joanne Smith Finley, Reader in Chinese Studies, East Asian Studies, School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University
- Pubblicato Lunedì, 08 Febbraio 2021 15:37
By James Landale
There is a "very credible case" that the Chinese government is carrying out the crime of genocide against the Uighur people, according to a formal legal opinion newly published in the UK.
It concludes there is evidence of state-mandated behaviour showing an intent to destroy the largely Muslim minority in north-western China.
This includes the deliberate infliction of harm on Uighurs in detention, measures to prevent women giving birth - including sterilisation and abortion - and the forcible transfer of Uighur children out of their community.
And, significantly, it says there is a credible case that Chinese President Xi Jinping is himself responsible for these crimes against humanity. It states "the close involvement of Xi Jinping" in the targeting of Uighurs would support a "plausible" case of genocide against him.
It says: "On the basis of the evidence we have seen, this Opinion concludes that there is a very credible case that acts carried out by the Chinese government against the Uighur people in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region amount to crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide."
A legal opinion is the professional judgement of a respected QC - an independent expert in their field - who assesses the evidence and the law and comes to a conclusion. It does not have a legal standing, like a court judgement, but can be used as a basis for legal action.
This opinion was commissioned - but not paid for - by the Global Legal Action Network, a human rights campaign group that focuses on cross-border legal issues, and the World Uighur Congress and the Uighur Human Rights Project.
China's foreign ministry has consistently denied allegations of human rights abuses against the Uighurs in Xinjiang.
The Chinese embassy in London accused anti-China forces in the West of fabricating "lies of the century" about Xinjiang.
The 100-page document - written by senior barristers at Essex Court Chambers in London, including Alison Macdonald QC - is understood to be the first formal legal assessment in the UK of China's activities in Xinjiang.
The opinion is significant because it beats a legal path that British judges would follow if Parliament were to agree new legislation allowing the High Court to decide on matters of genocide. MPs from all parties are hoping to push through this change in the House of Commons on Tuesday, but the government is working hard to avoid defeat.
Ministers are hoping to see off the rebellion by offering to boost the role of parliamentary committees in assessing genocide, but the relevant committees are understood to have rejected the idea.
The legal opinion was based on an exhaustive legal assessment over six months of publicly available evidence from governments, international organisations, academic scholars, charities and the media.
The documents included first-hand witness evidence from survivors, satellite imagery and leaks of Chinese government papers.
The bar for proving genocide is high. A court has to establish acts were committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.
In great detail, the opinion sets out evidence of what it describes as the "enslavement, torture, rape, enforced sterilisation and persecution" of the Uighurs.
"There is compelling evidence that detainees are subject to a range of forms of serious physical harm," the opinion says.
"Detainees report having been punished by administration of electric shocks, forced to remain in stress positions for an extended period of time, beaten, deprived of food, shackled and blindfolded."
Measures intended to prevent births within a group are among the activities that count as genocide in international law. The opinion sets out evidence of mass forced sterilisation as part of a plan for population control acknowledged by the Chinese authorities.
It concludes: "There is prolific credible evidence of Uighur women being subject to measures that prevent them from reproducing, either temporarily or permanently (such as by having IUDs non-consensually implanted or through forced removal of their wombs), as well as forced abortions. Such acts would, in our view, clearly constitute a form of genocidal conduct under [international law]."
Genocide can also include the forcible transfer of children from one group to another.
The opinion says: "There is evidence of Uighur children being forcibly removed from their parents. This includes their non-consensual placement in orphanages when one or both parents are in detention, and their mandatory placement in boarding schools.
It continues: "The fact that children are deprived of the opportunity to practise their Uighur culture…, that they are sometimes given Han names, and that they are sometimes subject to adoption by Han ethnic families, all bolsters the evidence that their forced removal is carried out with the intention of destroying the Uighur population as an ethnic group as such."
Significantly, the opinion says there is a "plausible" case that personal responsibility for the genocide lies with President Xi and two senior Chinese officials - Zhu Hailun, deputy secretary of Xinjiang's people's congress, and Chen Quanguo, party secretary in Xinjiang.
It points to leaked internal Communist Party documents, and other evidence, which it says show that "Mr Xi controls the overall direction of state policy and has made a range of speeches exhorting the punitive treatment of the Uighurs. Mr Chen and Mr Zhu have acted upon that overall policy by devising and implementing the measures which have been carried out in XUAR, including mass detention and surveillance."
It says: "We consider that there is a credible case against each of these three individuals for crimes against humanity."
It adds: "The evidence reviewed above suggests the close involvement of Xi Jinping, Chen Quanguo and Zhu Hailun in initiating and implementing a range of measures which, taken together, target Uighurs with a severity and to the extent that one could infer an intent to destroy the group as such.
"In those circumstances, we consider that there is a plausible inference that each of those three individuals possess the necessary intent to destroy, so as to support a case against them of genocide."
The Chinese embassy in London insisted that the population of Uighurs in Xinjiang was growing. All ethnic groups, it said, had the same legal status and freedoms of religion and culture.
"Some anti-China forces in the West have concocted and disseminated plenty of false information about Xinjiang and fabricated "lies of the century" in various forms," the embassy said. "They have smeared China's image and slandered its policies on Xinjiang."
It added: "Anyone who is fair-minded can see that the true intent of those forces is to suppress and contain China's development... Their moves are driven by a Cold War mentality, hegemonic worldview and zero-sum game mindset. China will never allow such farce and vicious demonization to succeed. Lies may mislead people for a while, but cannot win the trust of the world. Facts and truth will eventually bust all lies."
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