China breaches the 1948 Genocide Convention. Bitter Winter’s review of the Newlines Institute report and its aftermath.
by Marco Respinti
Since the beginning of its publications, in early May 2018, Bitter Winter has always been very careful and very determined in documenting what is without doubt the genocide waged by the Chinese communist regime against Uyghurs and other Turkic people, most of whom are Muslim, in Xinjiang, called East Turkestan by its non-Han inhabitants.
We must be very careful because “genocide” is not a word to use lightly, much less a light concept. And very determined for the same reasons.
We should recall the genesis of this term, which features so prominently in Bitter Winter’s publications. “Genocide” is a term covering a concept which was born out of the hellish days of the Jewish Holocaust. Polish lawyer and legal expert Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) coined the term to describe the crimes perpetrated by Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. Lemkin invented a new word to indicate a new species of crime: a planned, intentional campaign to wipe out an entire portion of humankind, singled out for ethnic, religious, or cultural reasons. It was the second time in history a similar term was invented. Two hundred years before, François-Noël “Gracchus” Babeuf (1760–1797), a proto-Communist author, staggered by what he judged as the bourgeoisie’s systematic massacre of peasants, invented a new word which served as a coeval descriptor of what the French Revolution (1789–1799) was doing to the Roman Catholic population of north-western France, especially in the Vendée. Babeuf’s French neologism was “populicide,” the “slaughter of a whole people.” The failure to remember the invention of the first neologism brought the need to invent the second, and the Jews nowadays saying “Never again” in support of Uyghurs–which Bitter Winter constantly chronicles–teaches an unforgettable lesson on memory.
Three fundamental questions
This premise serves for me to introduce the awe of even the Bitter Winter writer (who follows and covers these heinous crimes every day, and should be kind of used to it) faced with the daily amount of new proof of the CCP genocide perpetrated in Xinjiang, set against the reiterated and inane denials by CCP officials.
The Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy (NISP), formerly known as Center for Global Policy, is a Washington, D.C.-based bipartisan think tank that says of itself, “[i]n the recent past, we have witnessed extraordinary feats of human courage, dashed revolutionary hopes, genocide, war, and the largest refugee crisis since World War II. We believe that conventional wisdom and policy advice, based on abstraction, ideology, and superficial understanding of other regions, has not served our policymakers well.”
NISP’s brand new report, freely available online, is entitled The Uyghur Genocide: An Examination of China’s Breaches of the 1948 Genocide Convention. It has been researched and written in collaboration with the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, based in Montreal, Canada, and named after Raoul Wallenberg (1912–1945), the Swedish hero who saved thousands of Jews in German-occupied Hungary during WWII, only to be arrested in early 1945 by the Red Army in Budapest as a spy. He disappeared in the ditches of the Soviet Gulag. Its plain title goes direct to the basics, addressing the core question of this whole story. Is the Chinese regime breaching the golden rule that the governments of the world chose to respect after the horrors of World War II to avoid repeating history? If it is, can the actions of the Chinese regime be weighted differently from those of Nazi Germany? If it can be compared to the Third Reich, can the Chinese regime be a partner of democratic societies?
These are of course this reviewer’s questions, not NISP’s per se. But the findings in the NISP’s report—“the first independent expert application of the 1948 Genocide Convention to the ongoing treatment of the Uyghurs in China”—help this reviewer craft an answer to those seminal questions of the present time. In fact, NISP states directly that “the People’s Republic of China (China) bears responsibility for committing genocide against the Uyghurs in breach of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) based on an extensive review of the available evidence and application of international law to the evidence of the facts on the ground.”
The CCP’s “People’s War on Terror”
NISP’s independent experts certify genocide in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) as both the cultural attempt to annihilate Uyghur culture, and the physical destruction of its Muslim and non-Han population, recalling that Article II of the Genocide Convention defines “genocide” as the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such.” Significantly, it adds that “[t]he ‘intent to destroy’ does not require explicit statements” and “can be inferred from a collection of objective facts […] attributable to the state, including official statements, a general plan, state policy and law, a pattern of conduct, and repeated destructive acts, which have a logical sequence and result– destruction of the group as such, in whole or in substantial part.” People of good faith, including Bitter Winter readers, know that this is what independent chroniclers and scholars recount of everyday life in the XUAR under the CCP since President Xi Jinping launched his personal and the Chinese regime’s “People’s War on Terror” to “eradicate” Uyghurs as “tumors.”
This comes about, the NSIP’ report documents, through different means. Mass internment in the dreadful transformation through education camps in the name of a “de-extremification” as false as it could be when it targets peaceful civilians, students, intellectuals, women, and children. Mass birth-prevention strategy, to ensure that Uyghur women are “no longer baby-making machines”, a blatant racist measure. Forcible transfer of Uyghur children to state-run facilities to separate them from parents and cut the roots of future Uyghur generations until the complete demise of that culture. The eradication of Uyghur identity by prohibiting a way of life, the transmission of culture, use of language, and practice of religious faith. And selectively targeting intellectuals and community leaders.
Toward three answers
“China,” NISP concludes, “is a highly centralized State in full control of its territory and population, including XUAR, and is a State party to the Genocide Convention. The persons and entities perpetrating the above-indicated acts of genocide are all State agents or organs—acting under the effective control of the State—manifesting an intent to destroy the Uyghurs as a group.”
Yes, it is genocide under all possible norms of law and human understanding. Can the Chinese regime keep on breaching the golden rule that the governments of the world chose to respect after the horrors of World War II to avoid repeating history? Can the Chinese regime be weighted differently to Nazi Germany? Can the Chinese regime be a partner of democratic societies?