Following the delivery of explosive video testimony at London’s Uyghur Tribunal on Saturday, 27 November, the panel has learnt of direct links between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership and the ongoing genocide in East Turkestan (referred to as Xinjiang province by the Chinese state and media). Evidence shared by prominent scholars and researchers on the suffering of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in East Turkestan has revealed multiple direct connections between the 2014 orders of the Chinese leadership – headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping – and the subsequent policy measures taken in Xinjiang. In particular, the virtual hearing concentrated on the so-called Xinjiang Papers, which are also known as “Absolutely No Mercy”. These shocking documents were originally published partially by the New York Times in November 2019.      
The Uyghur Tribunal is a groundbreaking UK-based panel that was originally established in September 2020. Its sole remit has been the investigation of the “alleged genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur, Kazakh and other Turkic Muslim populations” perpetrated by the CCP in East Turkestan.  To date, the Tribunal has held a number of evidence-gathering sessions, which have occurred on 4-7 June 2021; 10-13 September 2021; and most recently on Saturday, 27 November 2021, albeit in a virtual setting. During the 10-13 September hearings, an anonymous person leaked high-resolution digital images of the original Chinese documents that comprise the Xinjiang Papers. This major leak paved the way for expert analysis, peer review, and comparison with the excerpts that were published by the New York Times two years ago. 
Scholars invited to give evidence during the follow-up hearing included Dr. Ton Zwaan, a retired associate professor of social science and genocide studies at the University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD); Dr. David Tobin, lecturer in East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield; and Dr. James Millward, professor of inter-societal history at Georgetown University Washington.
The #Uyghur Tribunal will hold a virtual third hearing on Saturday 27th November at 1300 GMT to introduce new evidence. The hearing will be live-streamed via our YouTube channel: Uyghur Tribunal. pic.twitter.com/yOenoCntKB
— Uyghur Tribunal (@TribunalUyghur) November 23, 2021
Dr. Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, was also invited to speak at the virtual hearing. Dr. Zenz told the Tribunal that the “Xinjiang Papers” published by the New York Times in 2019 are indeed genuine documents that come from the very heart of the Chinese government. Zenz stated:
“A careful comparison of the files to the evidence published by the New York Times in 2019 performed by this author and the peer reviewers shows that they are identical to the Xinjiang Papers. Consequently, it was decided to refer to them as the ‘Xinjiang Papers’.” 
In addition, Dr. Zenz explained to the Tribunal the significance of the 317-page September 2021 leak. In essence, the cache had given researchers the rare opportunity to verify the authenticity and source of the “top secret” papers.
“Chinese President (more accurately: General Secretary) Xi Jinping is classified as ‘top secret’ (绝密), China’s highest State Secret Classification Level (国家秘密的密级) for government documents, denoting material that if leaked ‘will cause particularly serious damage to the security and interests of the country.’
“For comparison, the classification level specified on the main cable (or telegram) of the China Cables was ‘secret’ (the second-highest classification level). Overall, this appears to be the first-ever instance that material with ‘top secret’ statements made by a Chinese head of state have leaked into the public domain – a fact that was not mentioned in the original New York Times report.” 
Unfortunately, despite overwhelming evidence of genocide in East Turkestan, it is incredible to still find pockets of support for the Chinese government installed in academic institutions and amongst the general public. However, the fact that such a previously top-secret speech given by Xi Jinping is now in the public domain has strengthened the case that the Uyghur genocide is more than just hearsay. While some continue to claim that the Uyghur genocide is a “hoax” and an attempt to win public support for Western government policies to counter Chinese ascendency on the global stage, the ironic truth is that the Chinese Communist Party has been doing precisely this to consolidate and legitimise its oppression of the Uyghurs, Hui, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, and Tajik peoples of East Turkestan. Under the guise of tackling “terrorism, separatism and extremism”, the Chinese ambassador to the UK Zheng Zeguang claimed during a September press conference: “[T]he Vocational Education and Training Centres in Xinjiang are absolutely not ‘concentration camps’, but preventative and de-radicalisation measures.”   
Indeed, as noted in Zenz’s latest testimony to the Uyghur Tribunal, Chinese government officials and academics have published and continue to distribute identical or near-identical documents that seek to normalise and push for the continuation and support of “counterterrorism” measures employed in Xinjiang. Whilst referring to an exhibit of Xi’s past speeches, Zenz highlighted that another government document “contains not only a title with an issue number of Xi’s speeches, but also a cover page dated October 17, 2016, indicating the purpose and timing of the document’s dissemination”. 
Moreover, Zenz explained that:
“A report published by the Tekes County government on October 27, 2016, only ten days after the issuance of the set of speeches, notes that on the 25th of that month, the County Party Committee conveyed a study session that was only attended by a select number of key leaders. The report quotes the title of document no.1’s speech set (《习近平同志在新疆考察工作期间的讲话》). Together with the title of document no.2 (the set of speeches by Xi, Li and Yu in May 2014), the title of document no.1 is also mentioned in the context of an October 24, 2016 study session of the XUAR Forestry Department.” 
The now-deleted report illustrates the persuasive power of Xi’s two speeches, which were delivered at a time when the region “was at the cusp of embarking on a multipronged set of draconian measures”. In his evidence to the Tribunal, Zenz cited an excerpt of the report:
“The speech made by General Secretary Xi Jinping during his inspection in Xinjiang and his speech at the second Central Xinjiang Work Symposium are the strategic deployment of the Party Central Committee for Xinjiang work. At present and for a period of time in the future, we must study them repeatedly and thoroughly to truly understand the core principles and grasp their spiritual essence, so as to make [them] enter the mind and heart, always remembering, creating a unity of knowledge and action, and let [it] take root. It is necessary to integrate the study of the spirit and essence of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech with the study and implementation of the spirit and essence of the series of speeches by the Secretary of the Party Committee of the Autonomous Region Chen Quanguo…” 
This evidence of Xi Jinping’s visionary role in the Uyghur genocide is no doubt a major breakthrough. It proves that the Chinese leader is ultimately responsible for the arbitrary detention of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities, the rape and sterilisation of countless women, as well as forced labour practices which employ over half a million Uyghurs in Xinjiang cotton fields. 
When providing evidence, Dr. Ton Zwaan shared notes on the conceptualisations of genocide and the “intent” needed for such acts. In his analysis, Zwaan referred to the recent examples of Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as well as the “genocide of the Herero and the Nama by the German army in southwest Africa (Namibia), several genocidal colonial wars by the Dutch in the Indonesian archipelago, the early period of Belgian rule in the Congo, the so-called Indian wars in the USA, and the wars of conquest and violent repressive campaigns by the French and the British in various parts of Asia and Africa”. 
Zwaan also told the Tribunal:
“The Chinese authorities may refrain from genocidal mass killing, but the regime and its security services dispose of many means of what are called ‘crushing techniques’ – already developed in Mao’s time: sharp surveillance, forced ‘re-education’ in ‘schools’ (detention centers, camps), forced labour, and endless restrictions and harassments. The victims may stay alive, but their freedom of living is nevertheless to a high degree destroyed.
“It may be surmised that in the case of the Uyghur minority an exaggerated and largely unfounded fear of ‘Islam’ and possibly ‘terrorism’ – also well-known in the West – have been and still are driving forces behind the present policy of repression. The main point is that once a minority is branded collectively as a ‘threat’ or an ‘enemy’, anything might be permitted against them.” 
References were also made to the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which is better known as the Genocide Convention. Dr. Zwaan warned that the oppression of the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in East Turkestan is certainly genocidal in its aims and intentions.
Article II of the Convention states that “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
- Killing members of the group;
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” 
The retired associate professor of social science and genocide studies also cited the Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin is known for coining the term ‘genocide’ in 1943 and further elaborating on the concept in his 1944 book, entitled Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. 
As Lemkin states in his magnum opus:
“Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killing of all the members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups (…) The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions of culture, language, national feelings, religion, [and] economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.” 
Zwaan further analysed the societal changes which China has undergone for more than half a century. Recounting the period of Maoism and its lasting impact on the country in more recent times, the former University of Amsterdam professor noted that there remains a massively scarred population, and that this is something that has not been “psychologically processed publicly in any extensive way”. 
“Mao’s long rule has been a very harsh time for many Chinese, with high levels of urban and rural poverty, repression, violence and overall instability and insecurity. The violence mainly inflicted by the state on its own population, the internal ‘class wars’, the endless campaigns of political mobilization and infighting, and reckless, large-scale policies as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, have left deep and lasting scars. The numbers of victims are absolutely staggering: specialists have estimated the number of unnatural deaths as somewhere between 44 and 72 million people, if one includes the mass starvation which was a consequence of the Great Leap Forward. And this horrible recent past, for which the Chinese Communist Party bears a large share of responsibility, has never been dealt with or psychologically processed publicly in any extensive way. It is largely repressed, and the CCP is still in power.” 
Dr. James Millward of Georgetown University Washington was one of the researchers who peer reviewed the original Chinese documents and confirmed the translations of Zenz. Regarding this matter, Millward told the Tribunal:
“I am confident of the accuracy of the translations in Dr. Zenz’ reports. Moreover, he includes the verbatim Chinese in footnotes for virtually all substantive quotations, so readers who know Chinese can compare the translation to the original.” 
Similarly, Dr. David Tobin was another scholar who peer reviewed the leaked documents. In his statement, Tobin confirmed that following his extensive analysis – which consisted of the following steps outlined below – he was satisfied that Dr. Zenz’s “authentication methods are rigorous, his explanation of the documents accurate, and the core argument that state violence in Xinjiang intensified under orders and supervision from the central party-state is logically consistent and strongly evidenced”. 
Tobin’s analytical procedure consisted of the following steps:
- Reading documents in full;
- Selected document relevant to Dr. Tobin’s expertise for close analysis;
- Translated full selected text;
- Analysed selected document;
- Re-read full document cache;
- Checked Dr Zenz’ transcripts;
- Peer-reviewed Dr Zenz’ analysis;
- Re-read documents and Dr. Tobin’s own analysis. 
By way of conclusion, Tobin told the Tribunal during last Saturday’s virtual hearing:
“Through this process I formed a professional judgement, prior to reviewing Dr Zenz’ analysis and used the review process to re-assess and strengthen my translations and analysis…Nevertheless, the documents demonstrate how policies in Xinjiang, including construction of “re-education” camps, “population optimisation”, and “Sinicisation” of religion, have been designed, disseminated, and their implementation monitored and policed by the top levels of the party-state. These documents are the most significant and detailed evidence available of the construction, implementation, and monitoring of policy in Xinjiang and are of enormous significance to the work of the Uyghur Tribunal and any scholar of Chinese politics.” 
The Uyghur Tribunal is now in its final stages and on course to reach a decisive conclusion. The seasoned human rights barrister and Chair of the panel Sir Geoffrey Nice QC will deliver their judgment on Thursday, 9 December. Following the reading of the judgment, a press conference will take place, where accredited members of the press will be able to ask questions. Tickets for the day are available here. Doors will open at 08:30, with the main event beginning at 09:00.
 Lemkin, R., 1944. Axis rule in occupied Europe. Washington: Carnegie endowment for international peace, Department of international law.
Shaheer is a regular contributor for Islam21c. He maintains a strong interest in current affairs, as well as the changing global conditions of Muslim populations. Prior to joining Islam21c, he developed a number of years’ experience in the health and social care sector and has previously volunteered at the Muslim Youth Helpline.