Washington D.C., Apr 20, 2021 / 04:00 am
An international human rights organization has declared that China’s actions in the province of Xinjiang amount to crimes against humanity.
In a report released on Monday, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch said that the Chinese government operates hundreds of detention camps in Xinjiang purportedly for anti-terrorism and for vocational purposes; former detainees have reported systemic torture and sexual assault in the camps.
An estimated one million Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in the region have been detained in the camps, some for “crimes” such as wearing traditional Uyghur clothing. Human Rights Watch detailed the claims in its report “‘Break Their Lineage, Break Their Roots’ China’s Crimes against Humanity Targeting Uyghurs and Other Turkic Muslims.”
The report’s title cites an August 10, 2017 quote from Maisumujiang Maimuer, a Chinese religious affairs official.
In his commentary posted on Weibo, a Chinese social network, Maimuer stated the aim of regional officials, to “Break [Uyghur] lineage, break their roots, break their connections and break their origins. Completely shovel up the roots of ‘two-faced people,’ dig them out, and vow to fight these two-faced people until the end.”
The Chinese government has been detaining and persecuting Uyghurs for years, the report stated, but the abuses and restrictions on religious and cultural practices have reached “unprecedented levels” in recent years for Uyghurs both inside and outside the network of camps.
“In addition to mass detention and pervasive restrictions on practicing Islam, there is increasing evidence of forced labor, broad surveillance, and unlawful separation of children from their families,” Human Rights Watch said. There are also reports that Uyghur women have been forcibly sterilized, and that forced abortions on late-term Uyghur women are common.
“It’s increasingly clear that Chinese government policies and practices against the Turkic Muslim population in Xinjiang meet the standard for crimes against humanity under international criminal law,” Beth Van Schaack, a faculty affiliate at the Stanford Center for Human Rights & International Justice, said.