East Turkistan Government-in-Exile urges ICC to launch investigation into China's human rights abuses

The ETGE in unison with several NGOs and the victims from East Turkistan also urged Turkey to recognize the genocide in East Turkistan.
China Flag (File Photo | PTI)
China Flag (File Photo | PTI)

ISTANBUL: Amid calls of boycott for Beijing Winter Olympics, the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile (ETGE) on Tuesday urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch an investigation into the genocide and other crimes against humanity being committed by Chinese officials against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Turkic peoples of East Turkistan.

Lawyers for the East Turkistan Government in Exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement had filed a formal legal complaint to the ICC on July 6, 2020.

The legal team was in Istanbul to collect further evidence and testimony from victims and survivors in the Uyghur diaspora community of Istanbul, the ETGE press release said.

The East Turkistan Government in Exile, Human Rights Watch Association of East Turkistan, the Association of Turkic World Solidarity and Cooperation, a legal team led by British lawyer Rodney Dixon QC as well as the Uyghur diaspora residing in Turkey held a news conference at a hotel in the Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, added the release.

The ETGE in unison with several NGOs and the victims from East Turkistan also urged Turkey to recognize the genocide in East Turkistan.

Prime Minister Salih Hudayar of the ETGE sent a video message urging the Turkish Government, civil society, and the Turkish people to support the plight of East Turkistan and its people, the release added.

"We urge Turkey to support East Turkistan's case at the ICC and we humbly request the Republic of Turkey to uphold its commitments to defending the oppressed by filing a parallel case against China at the International Court of Justice," said Prime Minister Salih Hudayar.

"It is important that Turkey's Government and Parliament stand up to China by recognizing China's ongoing genocide in East Turkistan as a genocide," he added.

Turkish lawyer Gulden Sonmez, who is heading East Turkistanis legal complaint against China at the Istanbul Court of Justice, also urged Turkey's Government to act and come to the aid of East Turkistan.

She also urged Turkey to release Uyghurs who are being held in immigration detention centres across Turkey, as well as helping Uyghurs like Idris Hasan, who has been extra-judicially detained upon arrival in Morocco since July 2021, said the release.

Halit Kanak, the head of the Association of Turkic World Solidarity and Cooperation, said the group urged the ICC to investigate China which will host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing beginning later this week.

China would be hosting the Winter Olympics from February 4 -20 with around 3,000 athletes competing in 109 different events and the Paralympics from March 4-13, with 736 competitors across 78 events.

British Lawyer Rodney QC said available evidence suggested that the number of Uyghurs deported from China's neighbour, Tajikistan, rose sharply from 2016 to 2018, and their population residing there declined by 85 per cent, said the release.

"The evidence submitted to the ICC collected through an in-depth field investigation in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan confirm this," he said.

Rodney Dixon QC also said if an investigation is launched, it would be the first of its kind in Central Asia. He also stated that the fourth dossier of evidence was planned to be submitted weeks ahead.

Since the Chinese government was awarded the 2022 Winter Games in 2015, non-governmental organizations and media outlets have documented numerous serious human rights violations by Chinese authorities.

These include arbitrary detention, torture, and forced labour of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic groups in Xinjiang (the Uyghur region); the decimation of independent media, democratic institutions, and rule of law in Hong Kong; high-tech surveillance systems enabling authorities to track and unjustly prosecute peaceful conduct, including criticism shared through apps and many other human rights violations.

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