The International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant issued on Friday last week for Russian President Vladimir Putin delighted Uighurs, as Putin’s today signals Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) tomorrow.
The crimes committed by Xi are many times more serious than what Putin has been accused of.
Putin has caused more than 8 million people to flee Ukraine. By imprisoning more than 3 million Uighurs in concentration camps and restricting the movement of more than 10 million Uighurs, Xi has not only denied them the opportunity to live humanely, but also the opportunity to escape oppression.
The 8 million Ukrainians who fled their homeland and took refuge in Europe are lucky compared with the 15 million Uighurs who suffer under the occupation of East Turkestan, known as Xinjiang in China.
The ICC counted Putin’s bombing of Ukrainians for one year as one of his crimes. While Xi has not dropped bombs on Uighurs, he has broken up 1 million families through imprisonment, forced labor and forced sterilization.
The only difference between these murderers is that one can count the number of people Putin has killed: The UN recorded a civilian death toll of 8,231. With Xi, it is impossible to count, but he cannot hide them all.
The 700,000 detainees listed in Xinjiang police files only include people who were arrested in dozens of counties in East Turkestan. These people were captured because of their ethnic identity, because they were the original inhabitants of East Turkestan and because they refused to accept Sinicization.
That means the detainees in the files are prisoners of a smokeless war that has been going on for 70 years. While Putin has been rightly criticized many times for mistreating prisoners of war, Xi’s silent killing of prisoners is not even mentioned.
Although Xi has concealed the true number of those killed in the Uighur genocide, he cannot hide the genocidal orders he issued. Leaked documents exposed the order “to break their lineage, break their roots” and to show “absolutely no mercy” toward Uighurs.
Xi is blocking discussion of the Uighur issue at the UN, banning the publication of a Uighur report and not allowing an independent investigation of East Turkestan. Putin has not pleaded guilty, but Xi has on occasion unknowingly confessed.
For example: The 2017 and 2018 population statistics for China show that birth rates in Hotan Prefecture and the city of Kashgar plummeted.
German anthropologist Adrian Zanz concluded that 1 million fewer Uighurs were born during those two years — the peak of mass incarceration in the Uighur region. Putin might have killed 100,000 people, but Xi prevented 1 million Uighurs from coming into the world, killed many, and kept others in prisons and camps.
In Ukraine, houses have collapsed, but in East Turkestan, despite buildings still standing, 95 percent of the people inside the houses have been deprived of the right to live a normal life.
In some cases, the houses have even become tools of torture. Comparing the 44 Uighurs who died in the Urumqi fire caused by Xi’s COVID-19 lockdown policy with those who have died in during the bombing of Ukraine reflects the difference in the crimes committed by Xi and Putin.
More than 20 countries, including three members states of the UN Security Council, have recognized China’s policy on Uighurs as genocide or as at risk of causing genocide.
The EU and the UN have concluded that the situation is at risk of causing crimes against humanity.
Furthermore, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has committed the crime of 70 years of dictatorship over Chinese, and the death of 3 million people around the world from COVID-19, which originated in China.
By hiding the virus when it first emerged in China, Xi extended the damage and became the person to cause the largest death toll in the world.
It is only a matter of time before an arrest warrant is issued for Xi. The current ICC warrant should worry Xi more than it does Putin, as he is probably acutely aware that he will be next.
Kok Bayraq is a Uighur-American observer.
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