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ICC refuses to investigate Chinese mass detention of Uighur Muslims

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has refused to investigate allegations of genocide committed by China against the Uighur Muslim minority, rejecting complaints filed by two Uighur exile groups, the East Turkistan Government in Exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement.

The complaint details “a campaign of torture, forced sterilization and mass surveillance against Muslims, among other abuses”. This includes the mass detention of Uighur Muslims, in what the Chinese government claim are “job training centres”.

There have also been allegations of forced repatriation of thousands of Uighurs through unlawful arrests in or deportation from other countries, including Cambodia and Tajikistan.

The ICC prosecutor’s office claimed on Monday that there was insufficient evidence to show that Chinese officials had committed crimes over which the court had jurisdiction. The court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, has maintained that the abuses “have been committed solely by nationals of China within the territory of China”.

“Not all conduct which involves the forcible removal of persons from a location necessarily constitutes the crime of forcible transfer or deportation,” the report said.

Complicity in genocide

This announcement follows revelations from UN Human Rights Lawyer and whistleblower, Emma Reilly, who has accused high ranking UN Human Rights Council officials of handing over the name of Uighur dissidents who attended the UNHRC sessions directly to the Chinese government.

This has led to the disappearance of dissents and their family members.

Read more here: Whistleblower accuses UN of complicity in Uighur genocide


International backlash

Increasingly China’s mistreatment of Uighur Muslims have come under intense international criticism, with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign describing the actions in Xinjiang as genocide. This position, Javier C. Hernández notes, has also been adopted by other western leaders.

Uighur dissidents living in exile have vowed to continue to put pressure on the international community to hold China accountable.

Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch, has stated in response to the ruling by the ICC that it was not a judgement on abuses were taking place.

“The facts remain: The Chinese government is committing grave violations on a massive scale in Xinjiang, and those responsible should be held to account,” she said.

This news comes as a new prosecutor to the ICC is to be elected in the coming weeks.

Read more from the New York Times

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