It’s unequivocal – the Chinese government is committing genocide. We must all act
The Uyghur Tribunal in London rules that “beyond reasonable doubt” the Chinese government is guilty of genocide. We must all end our silence
10 Dec 21

Uyghurs during a demonstration in Parliament Square, London. Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images

As Human Rights Day is marked around the world, the Uyghur Tribunal in London has just announced that “beyond reasonable doubt” the Chinese government is perpetrating genocide. Evidence proving forced sterilisation, torture, imprisonment, rape, forcible transfer and displacement and other inhumane acts are overwhelming. 

As stated by member of parliament Nus Ghani the judgement has offered “a rare moment of accountability for victims and survivors of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] regime’s cruelty.” The ruling is the result of time, energy and bravery over the last year and a half of individuals involved with the UT, without which this small justice for the Uyghur people would have likely never materialised. 

It has not been without personal and institutional cost for those involved though. The PRC has sanctioned key barristers and legal institutions involved in the proceedings, while Uyghur witnesses have been threatened in order to silence them; yesterday a UT official, Hamid Sabi, confirmed at least one Uyghur witness refused to testify due to the CCP threatening the safety of their parents in Xinjiang. 

With Chinese state propaganda continuing to work hard to discredit the ruling with accusations of it being a “fake tribunal” “delivering lies of the century”, UT officials and UK politicians have long sought to emphasise the tribunal’s independence and neutrality. During the judgement summary, Geoffrey Nice QC stressed the rigorous and impartial processes used; there was no “pre-judgement” on the PRC, assuming innocence until proven guilty for example. Ghani stated “the tribunal has worked to the highest criminal standards and has proof beyond reasonable doubt” to come to the guilty verdict of genocide, crimes against humanity and torture.

With a concrete ruling like this, many hope it will be hard for the UK government to ignore. 

In a Westminster Hall debate on the eve of the UT judgement, member of parliament Chris Bryant stated: “If global Britain is to mean anything, it has to mean a passionate commitment by the United Kingdom, in every corner of the globe, to liberty, personal freedom, fair trial, the rule of law, freedom from torture […]” and to utilise sanctions against foreign officials complicit in eroding such principles. He noted that the recent leaked Xinjiang papers have been crucial but not critical in implicating the policies and actions taken by high-level Chinese government officials in the genocide, including President Xi Xinping. 

This call for action now carries even more weight following the UT ruling. Ghani said this “emphatic decision must now compel the UK government to take action” with the duty to “engage all state-craft, due diligence, risk assessment, all internal and international toolkits available to ensure we are not aiding or abetting the Uyghur genocide.” This includes the government publically recognising genocide is occurring in Xinjiang, placing sanctions on the architects of the genocide and making good on promised export and import controls. 

While this ruling is a very positive step, it will still need individuals and organisations to speak up for Uyghurs. Index has been shining a light on Chinese government abuses in Xinjiang for years. Please support us by subscribing to our newsletter and magazine, following us on Twitter and joining in our calls for an end to the genocide.

By Flo Marks

Flo Marks is a researcher and writer at Index on Censorship