The East Turkistan Government in Exile, an organization that represents the occupied region where the Chinese Communist Party is currently engaging in genocide, demanded this weekend that the International Criminal Court (ICC) issue an arrest warrant for Xi Jinping in recognition of that genocide.
The ICC, an international agency with no enforcement mechanism, issued a similar warrant on Friday for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, charging him with war crimes in Ukraine. The ICC specifically cited reports of forced mass transfers of children out of Ukraine into Russian-occupied territory as a war crime as per international legal standards.
“It is forbidden by international law for occupying powers to transfer civilians from the territory they live in to other territories,” ICC President Judge Piotr Hofmański said in a statement announcing the warrant.
Russia is not a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which created the ICC and grants it jurisdiction over party states.
The ICC has not taken any similar measures against Xi in China despite years of exhaustive evidence indicating that Xi has extracted thousands of children from their homes in East Turkistan, as well as Tibet and Inner Mongolia, to be educated in “boarding schools” away from their parents, not taught their indigenous language or culture and forbidden from practicing religion. China is also not a signatory to the Rome Statute, though genocide is widely considered a peremptory norm of international law (jus cogens) and thus widely considered to fall under crimes for which all courts have jurisdiction (universal jurisdiction).
The legal definition of genocide lists as a genocidal act “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
Xi landed in Moscow on Monday morning to meet with Putin and other high-ranking Russian officials:
Chinese Leader Xi Jinping In Moscow For The First Time Since Ukraine War Started.#TNShorts pic.twitter.com/GJX0poH7bT
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) March 20, 2023
The East Turkistan Government in Exile, along with the East Turkistan National Movement, requested this weekend that the ICC issue an arrest warrant for Xi based on the evidence surrounding the child abductions as well as the mass imprisonment of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in concentration camps; the destruction of historical sites in the region such as mosques and cemeteries; the enslavement of an unknown number of civilians in factories and cotton farms; and the forced sterilization of women in entire villages in the region, among other crimes.
“We call on the International Criminal Court to act and hold Chinese leader Xi Jinping accountable for the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples,” Prime Minister Salih Hudayar of the East Turkistan Government in Exile said in a statement on Saturday. “The International Criminal Court must uphold justice and fulfill its commitment to ‘Never Again’ by investigating the ongoing genocide and arresting Xi Jinping for his direct role in this Holocaust-like genocide in the 21st century”:
The @IntlCrimCourt must uphold justice & fulfill its commitment to #NeverAgain by investigating the ongoing #UyghurGenocide in East Turkistan & arresting #XiJinping for his direct role in this 21st century Holocaust-like genocide.#InvestigateChina #ArrestXiJinping@KarimKhanQC pic.twitter.com/af4wsdbYJD
— Salih Hudayar (سالىھ خۇدايار) (@SalihHudayar) March 18, 2023
The two East Turkistan groups had already requested such an arrest in 2020, laying out the evidence for demanding Xi’s arrest in an extensive complaint that noted that some of the crimes involved the illegal extradition of Turkic people who had traveled abroad back to China, implicating not just China – which the ICC has no formal jurisdiction over – but Cambodia and Tajikistan. Reports have subsequently also implicated the governments of Kazakhstan and Pakistan in these transnational crimes.
The international legal community has long seen opposition to genocide as jus cogens, or a peremptory norm granting universal jurisdiction to all courts, though neither the ICC nor any other court in the world has expressed interest in processing Xi on charges of genocide.
A similar series of events occurred in 2021 when Xi visited Argentina to attend that year’s G20 summit. Two Uyghur organizations, the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur Human Rights Project, began the process of filing genocide charges against Xi and requesting his arrest in Buenos Aires, but no such arrest occurred.
Since the Argentina visit, a trove of extensive evidence directly implicating Xi in the Uyghur genocide has come to light. In late 2021, the Uyghur Tribunal, an independent tribunal of experts convened to discuss the legal case for genocide, found that, indeed, evidence suggested that the Chinese government was “beyond a reasonable doubt” guilty of the crime, identifying as particularly incriminating the use of forced sterilization to reduce the Uyghur population.
A series of internal Chinese government documents leaked as part of what is known as the “Xinjiang Police Files” (“Xinjiang” is the Chinese Communist Party name for East Turkistan) specifically named Xi as the architect of the genocide. The documents, published in mid-2022 by researcher Adrian Zenz and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, featured multiple speeches by Communist Party leaders crediting Xi personally with a plan to “break the lineages” of the people of East Turkistan, turning them into Mandarin-speaking communists.
In a 2018 speech, for example, then-Communist Party Xinjiang Secretary Chen Quanguo – purged last year from significant Party leadership – called the plan to build concentration camps for ethnic minorities “the Party Central Committee’s strategy for governing Xinjiang with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core.” Chen described the camps, which the government calls “vocational training centers,” as an idea by “the General Secretary” (Xi).
China’s then-Public Security Minister, Zhao Kezhi, also pointed to Xi in another speech leaked as part of the Xinjiang Police Files for the plan to “break the lineages, break the roots, break the connections, break the origins” of the people of the region.
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