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US Holocaust Museum says China ‘may be committing genocide’

Latest report says Beijing committing ‘multiple crimes against humanity’ against Uighur community.

The US Holocaust Museum has said repression of Uighur Muslims in China has gotten worse [File: Lee Jin-man/The Associated Press]

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has released a report detailing evidence of increasing government repression against Uighur Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region.

The report released on Tuesday “expresses the Museum’s grave concern that the Chinese government may be committing genocide” against the Uighurs, the organisation’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide said in a statement.

The abuses detailed in the report, the most recent in a years-long deluge of condemnations of Beijing’s policies towards Uighurs, include allegations of forced sterilisation, sexual violence, enslavement, torture and forcible transfer.

The findings served as an update to the organisation’s previous report. It said there is now “a reasonable basis” to believe that previously alleged crimes against humanity are growing amid a campaign by Chinese officials to hide their severity in response to international condemnation.

The report, which cites witness testimony, publicly available information from dissidents and accounts provided by human rights groups, said that “recently surfaced information signals that the Chinese government’s conduct has escalated beyond a policy of forced assimilation.”

“This includes, in particular, a deepening assault on Uighur female reproductive capacity through forced sterilisation and forced intrauterine device (IUD) placement as well as the separation of the sexes through mass detention and forcible transfer,” the report said, using an alternative spelling for Uighurs.

Tom Bernstein, the chairman of the museum’s Committee on Conscience, told The Associated Press, “The Chinese government has done its best to keep information about crimes against the Uighurs from seeing the light of day.”

He called on Beijing to “halt its attacks on the Uighur people and allow independent international monitors to investigate and ensure that the crimes have stopped.”

Calls for access

Beijing has repeatedly rejected charges of human rights abuses, forced detention, and other atrocities in the region, saying its policies are necessary to “fight extremism” and to promote upward economic mobility for Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.

The US and several other governments, meanwhile, have already said that China’s actions against Xinjiang’s Uighur Muslim and other minority populations amount to genocide.

In October, 43 countries again called on China to allow independent observers “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” to Xinjiang.

That came after United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council in September that China had again rebuffed requests to access the region.

In response to the countries’ appeal, China’s Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun accused critics of spreading “groundless accusations” and unfounded “lies”.

He further accused the US and other Western countries of “using human rights as a pretext for political manoeuvring to provoke confrontation”.

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