Apr 6, 2021 - World

Human rights lawyer: Genocide in Xinjiang is "crystal clear"

Photo illustration of Djaouida Siaci.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Djaouida Siaci

Djaouida Siaci is an international lawyer who focuses on human rights violations, genocide and sexual violence. She spoke to Axios about the international human rights law perspective on the Chinese government's actions in Xinjiang.

Why it matters: Siaci believes that a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics wouldn't just be symbolic; it could help persuade international legal institutions to open an investigation related to allegations of genocide in Xinjiang.

Driving the news: Siaci was one of the contributors to a recent report presenting a legal case for China's state responsibility for genocide in Xinjiang.

What she's saying: "It is crystal clear that there is a massive violation of China’s obligation under the genocide convention in destroying the Uyghur group in whole or in part," Siaci told Axios.

Details: The Chinese government's intent to cause the "slow death" of a group of people has been made clear through leaked government documents and government statements, Siaci said.

  • But what's especially damning is the reproductive and sexual violence being committed against Uyghur women. Siaci, who has worked on cases relating to the mass rape of Rohingya women in Myanmar, said systemic sexual violence is a clear sign of a campaign to destroy the ability of women to reproduce, both physically and socially, through the stigma of rape.
  • While rape isn't known to be occurring on a mass scale in Xinjiang, the growing evidence for rapes in camps, combined with coerced marriages of Uyghur women to Han men, forced sterilizations, and the large-scale removal of Uyghur children from their parents — these "have exactly the same effect in the long run" as physical killings, she said.

What to watch: A global boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics might help spur legal action against China. "The games are an insult to everyone," said Siaci.

  • But "no one wants to stand up to China," she said. "China has waged a malicious and insidious campaign from the get-go to suppress a campaign and they have been successful. They have the means to crush any attempt to show the world what they are doing."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to remove references to the International Criminal Court.

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