• Reading Level 5
Geography | Citizenship | RE

China accused of ‘gross’ human rights abuses

Is China guilty of genocide? A case is being brought against the superpower at the International Criminal Court, accusing it of mistreating its Muslim Uighur minority on a massive scale. The drone footage from a Chinese railway station in Xinjiang Province is shocking. Scores of people with their heads shaved, uniformly dressed in bright blue tabards, kneel on the platform, blindfolded, and with their hands bound behind them. Around and among them stands a cohortA group of people who share a characteristic. of black-clad guards. Gradually, the prisoners are forced to board a waiting train. The prisoners, according to Western intelligence experts, are UighurChina denies that camps for Uighur people in Xinjiang are detention camps. Officials say they are “vocational, educational and training centres”.  people on their way to internmentImprisonment without trial. During the Second World War the US interned many people of Japanese origin, thinking that they might be sympathetic to the enemy. centres to undergo a harsh process of "re-education". This is designed to make them abandon their traditional Islamic beliefs and traditions in favour of unquestioning loyalty to the Communist Party. The Chinese government is accused of sending more than one million people to the camps and taking half a million children away from their parents to be raised in state orphanages. Prisoners are subjected to forced labour, while academics and other intellectuals are given long jail sentences. Some former detainees have reported beatings, torture, and rape. Meanwhile, many Uighur communities have seen their mosques destroyed. Critics also say that the government is trying to reduce the Uighur population by forcing women to use contraceptives or be sterilised. In the city of KashgarA city on China's western border, near Afghanistan. Historically, it acted as the link between China and the Middle East., only 3% of married women of childbearing age gave birth last year. One woman, who underwent compulsory sterilisation, said that she felt "as if I was being taken to a slaughterhouse". Beijing denies the charges, describing the centres as "vocational training camps" where people who have been brainwashed by terrorists are de-radicalised and taught new skills. Xinjiang, it says, is a beautiful and happy place where the Uighurs have thrived. "Xinjiang fully implements the policy of freedom of religious belief," according to China's foreign ministry. "Xinjiang has never curtailedLimited; stopped; reduced in extent or quantity. From the Latin word for a horse with a shortened tail. the freedom of travel of Uighur people or people of any other ethnic groups." Yesterday, the controversy reached boiling point when a team of London-based lawyers representing two Uighur activist groups asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate China for genocide and crimes against humanity. China has hitherto escaped ICC charges because it does not recognise the court's jurisdiction. But the prosecution claims that some of the detained Uighur dissidents were unlawfully arrested in CambodiaA country in South East Asia bordered by Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. and Tajikistan, which are among the ICC's member states - and that, consequently, according to a ruling made in 2018, the case can be heard. Is China guilty of genocide? Belief systems Some say yes. China is doing all it can - short of mass murder - to reduce the Uighur population. Just as importantly, it is systematically destroying the Uighur ethnic identity by forcing them to renounce traditions and beliefs - particularly their adherence to Islam - which set them apart from others. To this end they have been subjected to imprisonment, brutality, and mass surveillance. Others argue that China is taking strict but necessary precautions in response to terrorist attacks: in 2014, 31 people were killed by Uighur militants at a railway station. Other countries also have de-radicalisation programmes - but, with such a huge population, China has to do things on a much bigger scale. For the same reason, it has long had a policy of discouraging large families. KeywordsCohort - A group of people who share a characteristic.

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