A “people’s tribunal” will today resume hearing evidence into China’s alleged genocide and crimes against humanity against Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang – a meeting the Chinese ambassador to the UK has already denounced as “political manipulation”.
The Uighur Tribunal is made up of lawyers and academics, and has no legal or judicial power, nor is it affiliated with the British government.
It held its first session in June this year and heard evidence from witnesses, whose accounts included graphic descriptions of rape and torture inside camps in Xinjiang, in northwest China.
The Chinese government has previously attacked the tribunal in severe terms.
Ahead of the second hearing, the Chinese government held a news conference in Beijing.
The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, said that “the so-called evidence is nothing but lies and disinformation”.
“This so-called Uighur Tribunal is in nature a political manipulation aimed at discrediting China,” Ambassador Zheng said, speaking via videolink.
“It is a non-governmental entity funded by a small number of anti China forces.”
The chair of the Uighur Tribunal is Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who led the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian president.
Sir Geoffrey told Sky News: “We’ll just look at all the facts, apply the law and decide what’s proved.”
Sir Geoffrey said that Chinese officials had been repeatedly invited to give evidence at the tribunal, but no response had been received.
“It would be much better if, rather than making a press conference of that kind, [Ambassador Zheng] arranged to attend the hearing and to make the points he would like to make on behalf of the People’s Republic of China himself,” he told Sky News.
China imposed sanctions on Sir Geoffrey in March this year, along with several other lawyers, academics, politicians and organisations in the UK, after the British government announced sanctions on Chinese officials as “perpetrators of gross human rights abuses”.
Sir Geoffrey told Sky News he hasn’t been “particularly bothered” by the Chinese sanctions.
The UN has estimated that around one million people have been held in political camps in Xinjiang.
The US government has said that China’s treatment of Uighurs and other minorities in the region amounts to genocide – a claim China has said is “absurd”.
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The government insists its actions in Xinijang are meant to counter extremism and terrorism.
Speaking at the press conference, Ambassador Zheng said: “The Chinese government remains unwavering in its determination to implement the relevant policies on Xinjiang.”
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