Human rights organization Amnesty International said China is committing crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, the northwestern region that is home to Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
In a report released Thursday, Amnesty called on the UN to investigate, saying China subjected Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims to mass detention, surveillance and torture.
Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, accused the Chinese authorities of creating “a dystopian hellish landscape on a staggering scale”.
“It should shock the conscience of mankind that massive numbers of people have been brainwashed, tortured and other degrading treatment in internment camps, while millions more live. in fear in the midst of a vast surveillance apparatus, ”Ms. Callamard said.
She also accused UN Secretary General António Guterres of “failing to act in accordance with his mandate”.
Mr Guterres “did not denounce the situation, he did not call for an international investigation,” Ms Callamard told the BBC. “It is her responsibility to protect the values on which the United Nations was founded, and certainly not to remain silent in the face of crimes against humanity,” she said.
In a 160-page report based on interviews with 55 former detainees, Amnesty said there was evidence that the Chinese state had committed “at least the following crimes against humanity: imprisonment or other serious deprivation of liberty. physical in violation of the fundamental rules of international law; torture and persecution. “
The report follows a series of similar findings by Human Rights Watch, which said in an April report that it believed the Chinese government was responsible for crimes against humanity.
China has been accused by some Western countries and rights groups of pursuing genocide against Turkish ethnic groups in Xinjiang – although there is a dispute over whether the state’s actions constitute genocide .
The author of the Amnesty report, Jonathan Loeb, told a press conference Thursday that the organization’s research “did not reveal that all the evidence for the crime of genocide had taken place” but that they had so far “only scratched the surface”.
China routinely denies all charges of human rights violations in Xinjiang.
“Serious violence and intimidation”
Experts generally agree that China has detained up to a million Uyghurs and other Muslims and jailed hundreds of thousands more as part of its crackdown in Xinjiang, which began in 2017.
There are numerous reports of physical and psychological torture in prisons and detention camps in the region.
China has also been accused of using forced sterilization, abortion and population transfer to reduce birth rates and population density, and of targeting religious leaders to break religious and cultural traditions.
China denies the accusations and says its camps in Xinjiang are voluntary vocational training and de-radicalization programs to fight terrorism in the region.
In its report, Amnesty said that the fight against terrorism could not reasonably explain the mass detentions and that the actions of the Chinese government showed a “clear intention to collectively target parts of the population of Xinjiang on the basis of religion and religion. ethnicity and to use severe violence and intimidation to eradicate Islamic religious beliefs and ethnocultural practices of Turkish Muslims ”.
The organization said it believed those taken to the Xinjiang camp network were “subjected to a relentless campaign of indoctrination as well as physical and psychological torture.”
These methods of torture, according to the report, included “beatings, electric shocks, stressful positions, illegal use of restraints (including being locked in a tiger chair), sleep deprivation, be hung on a wall, be subjected to extremely cold temperatures, and isolation. “
The “tiger chair” – which has been reported elsewhere – is said to be a steel chair with leg irons and handcuffs designed to chain the body in place. Several former detainees told Amnesty that they were forced to watch others locked motionless in the tiger chair for hours, if not days.
Amnesty also said that the Xinjiang camp system appeared to “operate outside of the Chinese criminal justice system or other known national laws,” and that there was evidence that detainees had been transferred from the camps to. prisons.
Although many findings have already been reported, Amnesty’s investigation is likely to increase international pressure on China over its actions in Xinjiang. The US State Department has previously described it as genocide, and the parliaments of the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Lithuania have passed resolutions making the same declaration.
In March, the EU, US, UK and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for the alleged abuses. China has responded by imposing retaliatory sanctions on lawmakers, researchers and institutions.
The possibility of China being investigated by an international legal body is complicated by the fact that China is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) – which puts it outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Court – and that it has a right of veto over cases handled by the International Court of Justice. The ICC announced in December that it would not prosecute a case.
A series of independent hearings were held in London last week, led by prominent British lawyer Sir Geoffrey Nice, with the aim of assessing allegations of genocide.