Jerry Grey (right) poses for a picture with his friend during their cycling in the outskirts of Turpan, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, northwest China, on September 4, 2019 (COURTESY PHOTO)
The U.S. State Department lawyers have concluded there's no evidence to prove "genocide" in Xinjiang. The UK Parliament has decided it's a job for the lawyers not the government.
So, what is it that causes some politicians and governments to conclude genocide is going on while so many of the legal teams haven't reached the same conclusion? It's all related to the body of evidence and how much of it is admissible and provable.
The body of evidence seems "overwhelming." An Australian think tank, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has found 380 sites that they've assessed as being "camps." Witnesses have come forward and given testimony that they've been in the camps and were tortured.
All these "facts" are being funneled into one conclusion: China is moving hundreds of thousands of people into a system of work camps and prisons in an effort to eradicate the people, their language, religion and culture.
But why are politicians and journalists accusing China whilst lawyers and courts take a more cautious approach?
Truth is most of the evidence on Xinjiang would be described, if this were a British court of law, as circumstantial. That is to say, it's believable but not provable.
For example, the original number of 800,000 "prisoners" has been updated and revised so many times that no one can cite an accurate number. Even the so-called chairman of the "World Uygur Conference," Omar Kanat, has been recorded in a video interview with Max Blumenthal of The Grayzone news website, saying he gets the number from the media and they got the information from him!
Moreover, although some Uygurs and Kazaks gave evidence of incarceration, abuse and torture, giving evidence and swearing an affidavit are two different things. A search of the Internet shows many testimonies on Xinjiang. But it's difficult to find sworn affidavits. This is strange because court matters are usually sworn in through affidavits. They become enforceable legal documents with punishments of fines and even imprisonment for lying.
Furthermore, many of the recorded testimonies have changed from 2017/18. Reports of incarceration with no torture or abuse, to incarceration with beatings and torture in 2020. Some even changed to include reports of forced sterilizations.
In every society making accusations against China for its activities in Xinjiang, the burden of proof is the job of the accuser. In other words, they must prove the guilt and the defendant is innocent until they do: "innocent until proven guilty."
That right, however, is being denied to China. The entire country is assumed guilty and is not being given the opportunity to prove itself innocent. The very people who can prove this innocence, lawyers, investigators, human rights' advocates, and politicians from any of the accusing country all refuse to visit Xinjiang, because to do so would allow themselves to be put into a position to disprove their own allegations.
This leaves China trying to prove its innocence against a global media, a political and human rights campaign which goes against the very rights and legal systems the politicians, journalists and other campaigners stand for.
Besides the inadmissible evidence, the accusations are easy to be debunk on many fronts.
First, no exodus ever happens in Xinjiang. In every case of genocide in history, there's been an exodus. Hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people leave the country, seeking safety in other countries. This isn't happening in Xinjiang or any of the countries that border the region. When there is genocide going on, NGOs rush to the region, set up camps and help victims, yet not one NGO has made the effort to visit the region, let alone set up aid stations.
Second, people there live peaceful lives. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of Uygurs and other minorities in Xinjiang sharing their lives as vloggers, opinion leaders and influencers on social media. Of course, because of the aforementioned massive amount of propaganda, the search will reveal many stories and articles related to this alleged "genocide," but you will see, there are many young Uygurs making a good living online. This is hardly likely to happen in a region of oppression.
Moreover, several Uygurs have found great fame and popularity inside China and become known to the world. Chairman of the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Shohrat Zakir is a Uygur. Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress Arken Imirbaki is a Uygur. That is hardly likely to happen if the region they come from is being systematically oppressed and their people persecuted, casting more doubt on the veracity of claims.
Third, fraudulent claims from witnesses are easily debunked. The doubt cast upon these witnesses is not cast by Chinese authorities, but by their own changes in testimony and the quick debunking of the images posted by some overseas Uygurs as images of oppression which are found to be photos or videos from sources outside of China—a man in Cambodia filmed as he was beaten for gambling debts is one example; a photo of a note found in a shoe claiming to be from a Uygur in Xinjiang is another. But the shoe was made in Viet Nam and assembled in New York.
We know through media and even supported by Western media that there were terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, and many people as well as many police officers died as a result. Security was inevitably ramped up and many buildings considered to be vulnerable were made more secure. Fences were constructed, and military personnel were drafted into the region.
A very obvious method of keeping people in factories and schools safe from potential terrorism is to erect fences around them—so obvious that the United States has now done the same around the White House, Capitol Hill and many other buildings in Washington, D.C.
A further method of reducing terrorism is to remove the causes of it. Radical extremism exists where poverty and deprivation exist. This is the same in every poor region, and in every religion. Two ways to successfully fight this are to remove the poverty and to educate the population so they can take advantage of job opportunities created by poverty alleviation projects.
Like China, France has commenced on a less confrontational path of education, de-radicalization and poverty alleviation. The EU applauds the French move but condemns the Chinese process.
Any investigators who really cared enough about Xinjiang and wanted to know the truth, would visit the "scene of the crime." We have to wonder why no one from the "prosecution" side has ventured into China to assess the situation, especially since China has made offers for them to do so.
The answer is clear. They don't want to prove themselves wrong and they've already convinced "the court of public opinion." Maybe that's enough. The same way it was enough to invade Iraq where no weapons of mass destruction have ever been found, and the same way Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Viet Nam and many others were invaded. It's this fact that is the most worrying!
（Print Edition Title: Let the Facts Speak）
The author is a China observer living in China who bicycled across several provinces, including Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
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