(TibetanReview.net, Jul07’20) – In a first complaint of its kind, Uighur exiles have on Jul 6 urged the International Criminal Court to investigate the communist party-monopolized government of China for genocide and crimes against humanity. A team of London-based lawyers representing two Uighur activist groups has filed a complaint against Beijing for pursuing the repatriation of thousands of Uighurs through unlawful arrests in or deportation from Cambodia and Tajikistan, reported nytimes.com Jul 6.
The report cited the lawyers as contending that though China is not part of the court, the case’s focus was on claims of unlawful acts by it in two member countries which meant that it could move ahead.
It remains to be seen how the court responds to that contention.
The lawyers’ 80-page filing was reported to include a list of more than 30 Chinese officials stated to be responsible for the campaign, including Xi Jinping, the Communist Party leader and state president.
The court’s mandate is to seek justice for victims of genocide, war crimes and other atrocities. But China does not recognize its jurisdiction, which raises the question how far the case will go, the report noted.
Rodney Dixon, a British lawyer leading the case, has said the case circumvented the issue of jurisdiction over Beijing by focusing on claims of unlawful acts by China in Cambodia and Tajikistan, two countries that are members of the court.
Speaking before traveling to The Hague where the court is located, Dixon has said, “This can become a critical case because for so long it has been assumed that nothing could be done to hold China accountable at an international court.”
“The court has said it has jurisdiction when crimes start or end in a member state, and that is the case here,” Dixon has said, citing a 2018 ruling by the court.
That ruling was applied to Myanmar, which has also not signed on to the court’s treaty. The court ruled that it could prosecute Myanmar for “deportation” and associated crimes against Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh, which is a member.
The two Uighur groups that filed the complaint are the East Turkistan Government in Exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement. The groups advocate independence for Xinjiang. East Turkestan is the name of two short-lived Uighur republics that China has since renamed as Xinjiang under its occupation rule.