From Kua Kia Soong
The US-led western campaign to sanction China based on their claim that China is committing genocide against the Uighurs in Xinjiang is a serious allegation that thus far cannot be taken at face value.
As a human rights organisation, Suaram demands that adequate proof be presented so that such claims can be corroborated. We call for a United Nations-based investigation of the situation in Xinjiang.
If these allegations of genocide are found to be misplaced, the US and its western allies should desist in their belligerent actions.
It was the former secretary of state under the Trump administration, Michael Pompeo, who had first made the allegation of Uighur genocide against China and, now, the Biden administration has endorsed this claim without providing any further evidence.
The evidence presented in the US government’s accusation of genocide against China has relied on a single 2020 paper by Adrian Zenz, a German researcher affiliated with the “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation” and Jamestown Foundation in Washington, DC.
The western media, including CNN and BBC, have likewise relied on Zenz’s article to claim that plunging Uighur birth rates and the application of birth control measures in Uighur counties of the Xinjiang region were proof of a policy of “genocide”. Zenz’s “data abuse” has been debunked by Gareth Porter and Max Blumenthal in The Grayzone, on Feb 18.
There are two key allegations that must be differentiated and examined:
(1) The question of the war on terror. There have been claims of human rights abuses by the Chinese authorities during their handling of the terrorist threat by militant Islamist groups in Xinjiang. While these allegations also need to be investigated and proven, they are in a different category from,
(2) The allegation of genocide which necessarily entails “intentional physical destruction of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group”. So far, the US and its western allies have not shown any evidence of deliberate “genocidal” killings of Uighurs by the Chinese authorities.
There have been attempts by the US and its western allies to pin the genocide charge against China (based only on Zenz’s paper) for its alleged “sterilisation” of Uighurs. While such a serious allegation warrants more investigation, it omits to highlight the fact that China has a well-known strict birth-control policy for its Han majority but a more liberal policy towards its ethnic minorities, including the Uighurs.
Until recently, China strictly enforced its one-child policy on its majority Han population. Thus, while the president of the People’s Republic of China has only one daughter, an Uighur family being traced in a recent CNN report on Xinjiang has six children. Official statistics show that the growth rate of the Uighur population in Xinjiang is nearly twice that of the overall residents and is significantly higher than that of the Han population in Xinjiang.
Comparing US/western and Chinese approaches to war on terror
Returning to the first allegation about the war on terror, let us take a broad perspective on the handling of the war on terror. The question is, how should a “war on terror” be handled and what is the pattern/record thus far?
If we start with the record of the US and its western allies in their so-called “war on terror” in the Middle East and Central Asia after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks and then compare this with how the Chinese authorities have handled the same terrorist threat in Xinjiang, we will find the contrast in response sobering.
In fact, the allegations of human rights abuses among citizens, including “mass internment of perhaps one million Uighurs”, are grossly disingenuous as reports on the Xinjiang situation that fail to mention the many terrorist attacks in Xinjiang and Beijing by the terrorist Uighur East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
As for the record of the US’ war on terror, 30 years ago, the US and its allies launched the “Gulf War” on Iraq on Jan 17, 1991. It has been a long and unending war against the people of Iraq up until today.
Ignoring calls from the UN, president George Bush together with British prime minister Tony Blair again invaded Iraq in 2003 by invoking Saddam’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Then senator Joe Biden had endorsed the WMD narrative. It proved to be a lie that cost 100,000 lives just in Iraq and US$2 trillion from the budget.
Again in 2014, under president Barack Obama, the US carpet-bombed Iraq and Syria as part of his War on the Islamic State (IS). Then vice-president Joe Biden was supportive of this carpet bombing.
The number of civilian casualties and refugees because of this “war on terror” unleashed by the US and its western allies ran into the millions and continues to the present day.
A second example on record is the Soviet-Afghan War when the US supported al-Qaeda’s mujahideen as “Freedom Fighters” against the Soviets in 1979.
In fact, the US and its allies have been involved in countless wars, military coups, “anti-terrorist” operations, etc since the Korean War (1950 to 1953), the Indonesia military coup (1965), the Vietnam War (1965 to 1975) apart from Iraq (1991-), Syria (2011-), Libya (2011-), Yemen (2016-).
The US has also sponsored military coups in Guatemala, the Congo, Egypt, El Salvador, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.
In May 2012, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, helmed by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister, passed a historic judgment against George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, et al.
“The prosecution had established, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused persons, former president George Bush and his co-conspirators, engaged in a web of instructions, memos, directives, legal advice and action that established a common plan and purpose, joint enterprise and/or conspiracy to commit the crimes of torture and war crimes, including and not limited to a common plan and purpose to commit the following crimes in relation to the “War on Terror” and the wars launched by the US and others in Afghanistan and Iraq:
(a) Torture; (b) creating, authorising, and implementing a regime of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment; (c) violating customary international law; (d) violating the Convention Against Torture 1984; (e) violating the Geneva Convention III and IV 1949; (f) violating the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention of 1949; (g) violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Charter…”
US support for Uighur jihadists
While the US “war on terror” is directed against IS and other jihadists, the US has also nurtured and sponsored jihadists ever since they supported the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation there in the 1970s.
Similarly, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) was founded by Uighur jihadists in 1988, just as separatist uprisings were breaking out in Xinjiang province. It was previously known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement which had received CIA sponsorship from the start.
The TIP, which is based in north-western Pakistan, is deemed a terrorist organisation by the US as well as Russia, China, and Pakistan. Between 1990 and 2001, the TIP had committed over 200 terrorist acts, including blowing up vehicles, marketplaces, killing civilians and assassinating Chinese government officials.
The World Uyghur Congress, with its headquarters in Munich, is partly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which in turn is partially subsidised by the US Congress. The NED has a long history of “soft power” interference in sovereign states all around the world, including in Hong Kong.
UN must seek the truth in Xinjiang
To clear the air of all obfuscation, we call for the UN to investigate the situation in Xinjiang. China’s government, for its part, has recently stated that it would welcome a UN mission to Xinjiang based on “exchanges and cooperation”, not on the basis of finding the country “guilty before proven innocent”.
For the moment, unless the US and its western allies can substantiate the genocide allegation, they should withdraw the charge and their belligerent actions.
The Malaysian government must call for the same and support a UN-led investigation of the situation in Xinjiang. The UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur is the rightful authority to investigate such serious allegations of genocide and human rights violations, not any single nation or coalition.
Kua Kia Soong is Suaram adviser.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.