A panel of UK-based lawyers and rights experts investigating the plight of Uighurs in China were yesterday to begin hearing evidence from witnesses, as Beijing branded it a “machine producing lies.”
The “Uighur Tribunal” said that its nine jurors would hear first-hand testimony of alleged crimes in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, including forced sterilization, torture, disappearances and slave labor.
The organization, which has no state backing, plans to use the London hearings to issue a verdict on whether Beijing has perpetrated genocide or crimes against humanity against Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China.
Tribunal vice chairman Nick Vetch declined to comment on China’s heated attacks, but vowed its work would be “impartial,” based on evidence sessions this week and in September, and on “thousands of pages” of documentary evidence already amassed.
“The tribunal is an independent endeavor and it will deal with the evidence and only with the evidence,” Vetch said.
“We have invited the PRC [People’s Republic of China] to provide us with any evidence they may have. So far we’ve received nothing from them,” Vetch said.
The tribunal plans to deliver its report in December, and while it would have no legal force, participants hope to draw international attention and spur possible action.
“It will be for states, international institutions, commercial companies, art, medical and educational establishments and individuals to determine how to apply the tribunal’s judgement, whatever it may be,” the panel has said.
It was set up at the request of the World Uyghur Congress, the largest group representing exiled Uighurs, which lobbies the international community to take action against China over alleged abuses in Xinjiang.
In March, the tribunal was one of four UK entities and nine individuals sanctioned by Beijing for raising concerns about the treatment of Uighurs.
Its chairman, Geoffrey Nice, a veteran British lawyer, was named personally on the Chinese sanctions list along with Helena Kennedy, a high-profile rights lawyer who is advising the tribunal.
Nice, who led the UN prosecution for war crimes of the late former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, said at the time the sanctions would not affect the work of the tribunal. Other members include experts in medicine, education and anthropology.
China has not held back in condemning the tribunal.
“It is not even a real tribunal or special court, but only a special machine producing lies,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅).
“It was founded by people with ulterior motives and carries no weight or authority. It is just a clumsy public opinion show under the guise of law,” he told reporters.
The US government accuses China of waging “genocide” in Xinjiang. Britain has declined to use that designation, but joined the US and Germany last month in calling on Beijing to end repression of Uighurs.
Chinese authorities have marshalled extraordinary resources to monitor a herd of traveling elephants and to keep it away from residential areas. Media reports quoted the Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade as saying that a team of eight people have been tracking the elephants, around the clock, on the ground and by drone. In the latest update, authorities said that the herd of wild Asian elephants had been tracked to a forest just outside a village in Xiyang Township, in Yunnan Province, about 90km southwest of the city of Kunming, heading back in the direction they came from. Drone images showed the elephants lying down
Tall, thin and brightly colored, Hanoi’s “tube houses” dominate the city’s streets as 9 million people compete for space in Vietnam’s bustling capital. Although Vietnam saw a number of villas and garden houses built during the French colonial period, Hanoi has few of these grand residential homes. Instead, tree-lined streets are packed with dwellings that are barely 4m wide, but are three times that in depth. Typically, a tube house might be home to a family of four, but two or three generations of relatives sometimes have to jostle for space. The first tube houses — known as nha ong in Vietnamese — are
The head of the Philippine military on Monday visited a coral-fringed island his country occupies in the South China Sea, a move that could stoke already heightened tensions between Manila and Beijing in disputed waters claimed by both countries. During the visit, Philippine Armed Forces Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana commended service members for the role they played in protecting the island’s residents and “guarding the country’s territories” in the strategic waterway. The visit comes after diplomatic protests made by the Philippines in the past few months over what it says is the illegal presence of hundreds of “Chinese maritime militia” vessels inside
Maori might have been the first to discover Antarctica, with connections to the icy continent and its surrounding oceans stretching back to the seventh century, researchers say. A new paper by University of Otago combines literature and oral histories, and concludes that Maori were likely the first people to explore Antarctica’s surrounding waters and possibly the continent in the distance. They write that Maori and Polynesian journeys to the deep south have been occurring for a long time, perhaps as far back as the 7th century, and are recorded in a variety of oral traditions. The oral histories of Maori groups Ngti Rrua