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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.
Ma Jian is an award-winning Chinese writer. His latest novel is China Dream. His work is banned in China
Sarah Sands is Chair of the Gender Equality Advisory Council for G7 and a board member of Index on Censorship. Sands was the former editor of BBC’s Today programme
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”114787″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]One of the things I love about working at Index is the fact that free speech isn’t easy. That every time a new, or even a more established, issue arises you have to think through what it means and how it fits into your own value system.
Should you defend the right of a racist to hide behind their right to free speech? Where is the line between protecting free speech and opposing hate speech?
Free speech underpins our right to protest. However, does that mean if people decide to protest against our free press, that it is legitimate free expression too?
Crucially, if a repressive regime is undermining the right to free speech and attacking every other human right, is a boycott, whether of goods or culture, a legitimate way to protest?
If you believe in the basic human right of free expression – can you and should you boycott? Is your right to protest through boycott or blockades legitimate if the people or items you are boycotting are also simply exercising their right to free speech?
This question has been playing on the team at Index this week.
Every day we discuss what’s happening in China, from the acts of genocide against the Uighur Muslims, to the impact of the national security law in Hong Kong and the latest revelations about the curtailing of human rights in Inner Mongolia.
Every day we despair at what is happening to people who are living under a tyrannical regime that cares little for its citizens and even less for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Which brings me, bizarrely, to the latest Disney film release – Mulan.
Mulan should be an inspirational story, one of a woman whose actions saved a dynasty.
A woman who didn’t want her father to face another conscription, to fight in a war she knew would lead to his death. To protect her family, she pretended to be a man and joined the army and ultimately saved the day.
However, the latest version of the story is rightly proving to be controversial.
The actor playing Mulan has praised the actions of the police against the protestors in Hong Kong – parroting the Chinese Communist Party line straight from Beijing.
The script of the film shows Mulan as Han Chinese and not of Mongolian origin as many believe she was. The views of one actor, as wrong as I believe them to be, are a matter for her. The cultural misrepresentation makes for an inaccurate and to many an offensive film, but these editorial choices do not warrant a boycott of someone’s art.
What might is that Disney shot the film in the Xinjiang province.
Xinjiang is the home of the majority Muslim Uighur community and, now, the site of numerous concentration camps, where women are being forcibly sterilised, piles of human hair are being collected, people are being disappeared and the term re-education has become code for the eradication of any cultural identity that does not subscribe to the Beijing norm.
The term for this is genocide. A mass killing and cultural subjugation waged against millions of people. And it is happening today, right now in Xinjiang on the orders of the Chinese Communist Party.
Disney chose to film their latest Mulan adaptation in Xinjiang and, in doing so, have marginalised the suffering of our fellow human beings. Disney exists to turn fantasies and fairy tales into real life, their raison d’etre is to transport us all to worlds of innocent pleasure. Yet they used their power to thank the public security bureau in the city of Turpan and the “publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee” in the end credits.
They thanked the people who are not only complicit but who are seemingly orchestrating acts of genocide. Their power and agency was used not to stand with the oppressed but with the oppressors.
Index doesn’t support boycotts; we were established to publish the work of censored artists and writers – those who are being persecuted. In my opinion that puts us on the side of the Uighurs not Disney.
Disney isn’t persecuted, it isn’t being censored – you can still see Mulan. But choices and actions have consequences. The choices Disney made to ignore the inconvenient truth of a genocide are not immune from scrutiny because their end product is an artistic output. This is a company that should be held accountable for its actions.
Free speech is important; it’s vital. It gives every one of us the right to protest. So, I’m using my right of free speech to say that I think Disney should be ashamed and that I won’t be watching Mulan and I don’t think anyone else should either. I stand with the Uighurs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][three_column_post title=”You might also want to read” category_id=”13527″][/vc_column][/vc_row]