Beijing Blasts ‘Uyghur Tribunal’ Investigating Human Rights in Xinjiang 

China is criticizing a process called the “Uyghur Tribunal,” a quasi-judicial effort by opponents of the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities designed to publicize evidence of alleged human rights abuses. At a September 9 news conference in Beijing, China’s FILE – Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian takes a question at the daily media briefing in Beijing on April 8, 2020.“It has nothing to do with law, justice or truth, and is just another farce staged to smear and attack Xinjiang,” Zhao told the press, calling the tribunal members clowns.  The “tribunal” heard from 38 witnesses in its first round of hearings in June in Church House, London. That event focused on alleged rights abuses in China’s northwest region of Xinjiang. The second set of hearings is scheduled from September 10 to 13, according to the organizers.  Led by Sir Geoffrey Nice, a prominent lawyer and expert in international criminal law, the nine “jurors” include academics, medical and business practitioners, diplomats and lawyers, according to Nick Vetch, vice chair of the tribunal.  A six-member team of lawyers is helping to collect and present evidence. They are British, French, German, Iranian and Maltese nationals. By year’s end, the jurors plan to issue a “verdict” regarding China’s actions in Xinjiang. “[It’s] not possible for the allegations made against the PRC [People’s Republic of China] to be considered in a formal court such as the International Court of Justice, and it has not been dealt with by states, and therefore it is left to the citizens to seek and answer these questions of such gravity,” Vetch told VOA.  Some countries such as the U.S. as well as rights organizations like Amnesty International accuse China of genocide and crimes against humanity targeting Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.  FILE – Chair of the panel Geoffrey Nice gives the opening address on the first day of hearings at the “Uyghur Tribunal”, a panel of UK-based lawyers and rights experts investigating alleged abuses against Uyghurs in China’s  Xinjiang region, in London, June 4, 2021.Among other things, they point to arbitrary detentions of an estimated 1 million people and to reports of forced labor and involuntary sterilization.    China denies abusing Uyghurs, saying they are being given vocational training and language skills. Beijing says people in Xinjiang are free to choose their work.  In December 2020, the FILE – Police officers stand at the outer entrance of the Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, April 23, 2021.According to Hamid Sabi, the head of the six-member team of lawyers, the body was set up at the request of Dolkun Isa, WUC president.  China was invited on numerous occasions to take part in the process but organizers received no response.  “We do not present a case for or against China,” Sabi told VOA. “The tribunal members and the counsel team are the same as the June hearing.”   Foreign Ministry’s Zhao called WUC a separatist organization and Isa a terrorist listed by the Chinese government. “These so-called ‘chair’, ‘experts’ and ‘witnesses’ have deplorable track records and are habitual liars,” Zhao charged, “who have become a laughingstock in the international community long time ago.”   Isa, a witness during the first round, confirmed to VOA Mandarin that the tribunal had been established following his request but maintained that it is independent.  “The tribunal acts wholly independently, although the WUC closely supports the hearings by arranging Uyghur witnesses and translation, among other things,” Isa said.  Teng Biao, a Chinese human right lawyer in the U.S. and an expert witness at the tribunal’s second hearings, said the Chinese Communist Party always tries to discredit the witnesses and survivors to cover up truth. The Uyghur Tribunal, he said, “plays a very significant role to at least disclose the truth and the nature of the crime.”  

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