World-famous legal expert Sir Geoffrey Nice has accepted to preside what is announced as the most thorough investigation ever of CCP crimes in Xinjiang.
by Ruth Ingram
Human rights and Uyghur activists have applauded the launch of a People’s Tribunal in the UK to examine claims of genocide against the Uyghur people by the Chinese Government.
This follows an appeal by Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), in June this year, to Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, a former prosecutor at the Milosevic trial for war crimes in the Hague, to investigate thoroughly the catalogue of human rights atrocities being meted out to his people in Xinjiang. Sir Geoffrey is also the former chair of the China Tribunal in London from 2018-2019, which investigated allegations of organ harvesting of political prisoners in China. He is well placed to lead a further probe into crimes such as murder, enslavement, wrongful imprisonment, torture, rape, and countless other offences that are alleged to have been perpetrated since Chen Quanguo assumed the helm of Xinjiang Province in 2016.
Despite being a signatory to the Genocide Convention, China has maneuvered itself out of its main provisos, to the extent that prosecution would be a nonstarter in the International Criminal Court. The unlikelihood of achieving justice in an international court has prompted the WUC to raise its concerns before an alternative jury.
The acts of which the PRC is accused in relation to the Turkic peoples of North West China, if proved, says the WUC, would “raise the question as to whether the PRC’s intention is to destroy the Uyghurs as a group in whole or in part,” which is the essential element of the crime of genocide as defined in Article 2 of the Convention of 1948.
Sir Geoffrey, in taking up the mantle to preside over the tribunal commented, “The allegations cannot be graver, but the Uyghur Tribunal will deal with the evidence and the law, and the evidence and the law alone is coming to its determination.”
The tribunal will comprise at least seven members, who will act as a jury, and membership will be open to “non specialist” citizens who will be charged with listening objectively to the facts. Two multi-day hearings are planned to be held in London, and witnesses and family members who are considered vulnerable will be afforded anonymity in camera as they present their evidence. Submissions will be welcomed from representatives of the worldwide Uyghur community, and the PRC itself will be invited to respond.
“It is the duty of citizens everywhere, through their elected representatives to save other citizens anywhere in the world from genocide,” said Sir Geoffrey, regretting that international bodies rarely commit themselves to ruling on genocide because of the grave policy implications this would incur, leaving ordinary citizens no choice but to look elsewhere for a judgement. He said that the evidence against the PRC has been alleged but not formerly heard or proven systematically, and this would be the task of the tribunal.
“This tribunal will start without assumption or presumption of any kind, review evidence—all of which will be given in public and available on its website—, consider all available arguments, and reach a judgement,” he concluded, saying that it would then behoove citizens, governments, and international bodies to decide whether and how to act on the conclusions.
Luke de Pulford, Director of the Arise Foundation, founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response and a member of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, tweeted in response to the announcement, “This is exciting and important news. If the UN route to genocide determination is blocked, we have to find other ways.”
Welcoming the Tribunal, Dolkun Isa said, “We cannot continue to shrug in the direction of China’s veto and stick to the line that genocide determination is a ‘matter for the international judicial system.’ This is a recipe for more genocide, not less,” he said emphatically.
Director of the London branch of the WUC, Rahima Mahmut, thanked Sir Geoffrey for taking on the “dramatic challenge.” “This Uyghur Tribunal is crucial to bringing judgement to the CCP’s treatment against my people as we believe it is genocidal at every level.” She hopes that the long-awaited justice she and her people have been waiting for will be achieved.