Is there a political will to prevent the Uyghurs from genocide?

Uyghurs detained in Chinese camps are subjected to torture, forced labour and sterilization. This week, our partners from Asymmetrical Haircuts have invited two experts – Dr Melanie O’Brien from the University of Western Australia Law School; and Dr Ewelina Ochab, a human rights advocate – to discuss if and how violations endured by the Uyghurs could be characterized as a genocide. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has declined a request for an investigation and the Security Council would never vote a resolution against China, which has a veto. But evidence of crimes against Uyghurs are consistently collected by activists and researchers through satellite pictures, analysis of birth rates, statistics on implanted contraceptive devices and so on. China is a state party to the Genocide Convention, O’Brien points out in this podcast, but there isn’t a monitoring body. She says the only option is to hope another country like small but brave Gambia [in the Myanmar case] will step up and take China to the International Court of Justice for violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

A veiled protester holds a sign that reads
© Ozan Kose / AFP
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The situation of the Chinese Muslim community, known as the Uighurs (and sometimes spelled Uyghurs), has been causing concern around the world. There are a plethora of reports from activists, journalists and human rights experts that at least one million are being detained in camps in the remote western region of Xinjiang. China denies using torture, forced labour and sterilisations. Do these practices amount to genocide? If so, do states have to declare it? What responses are available? Is it a genocide if no court has yet ruled that it is?

Two genocide experts join us: Dr Melanie O’Brien from the University of western Australia Law School, and second vice president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (We last had Mel on to comment on the genocide case between Gambia and Myanmar at the International court of Justice); and Dr Ewelina Ochab, a human rights advocate, and Co-Founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response

Also we hear from the British lawyers at Essex Court Chambers who recently gave a legal opinion based everything that’s out there from researchers into alleged Uighur genocide.

If you want to understand states’ responses and responsibilities when it comes to genocide, then this is for you.

Asymmetrical Haircuts episode 38
Janet, Stephanie and Ewelina (bottom left) are introduced to Poppy dog by Mel (top right)

Asymmetrical Haircuts podcastASYMMETRICAL HAIRCUTS

This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between and Asymmetrical Haircuts, a podcast on international justice produced from The Hague by journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg, who retain full control and independence over the contents of the podcast.

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