China committing ‘crimes against humanity’ in Uighur treatment, HRW says

China committing ‘crimes against humanity’ in Uighur treatment, HRW says
Human Rights Watch has accused China of crimes including torture and sexual violence.
2 min read
20 April, 2021
The HRW report accuses China of sexual violence, torture and other crimes [AA/Getty]

China's treatment of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities amounts to crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said in a new report on Monday.

The document, entitled “Break Their Lineage, Break Their Roots,” highlights far-reaching violations of the rights of Muslims in the region, including torture and sexual violence.

Authored with Stanford Law School’s Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic, the report also focuses on arbitrary imprisonment.

It details how Turkic minorities have been given years-long sentences for downloading books in the Uighur language or sending religious messages to relatives.

There are up to a million Turkic Muslims who have been arbitrarily imprisoned in hundreds of facilities.

HRW’s China director, Sophie Richardson, said these ethnic groups, including Uighurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, have been “systematically persecuted… their lives, their religion, their culture.”

She added that Beijing's claims that it is offering “vocational training” and “deradicalisation” programmes “can’t obscure a grim reality of crimes against humanity.”

The report also includes allegations of widespread sexual abuse of Muslim women.

Read more: In China's war on Uighur women, nothing is sacred, everything is permitted

Tursunay Ziawudun, a Uighur woman from Xinjiang, was detained for nine months in a camp in 2018. She said she was gang-raped by masked men three times.

She also alleges the men applied electric shocks to her genitals, and that officials brought women to her cell “every night,” where they were raped.

HRW said evidence shows that women’s reproductive autonomy is being violated by Chinese authorities.

It referenced claims of forced abortion and contraception, as well as threats of imprisonment given to women who refused sterilisation.

Some government bodies, including the Canadian parliament and US State Department, have declared China’s actions a genocide.

HRW, however, says it does not yet possess sufficient evidence of “genocidal intent” to make this claim itself.

Together with Stanford Human Rights Clinic, the group called for the UN Human Rights Council to launch an inquiry into China's treatment of its Turkic Muslim minorities.

They also urged governments to take steps to end forced labour and use “universal jurisdiction” to prosecute those who have committed the most egregious of crimes.

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