A new study in the Journal of Genocide Research, ‘Why Scholars and Activists Increasingly Fear a Uyghur Genocide in Xinjiang”, argues that China’s repression of the Uighur people is increasingly being seen by academics and legal professionals as meeting the strict legal definition of genocide.

“China can no longer be regarded as an authoritarian country that is perhaps moving in the right direction. No, we are witnessing a monstrous mass assault on human dignity. It is an intentional, well-planned, multipronged genocide.”

Magnus Fiskesjö, Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University

The study describes how, over the past four years, the Chinese Communist Party has organised the largest forced incarceration of an ethno-religious minority “since the Second World War.” Over 1 million Uighurs have been forced into “transformation through education” camps, high-security prisons, or “situations of forced labour.”

The situation has seen detainees beaten to death, starved, allowed die through the withholding of necessary medical care, the rape of male and female prisoners, and the usage of detainees as a source of forced labour for factories across China.

The evidence of mass sterilization of the Uighurs that came to light in June of this year is also discussed, with the study stating that the data leaked shows that, over the past four years, “hundreds of thousands” of women from ethnic minorities have been subjected to non-consensual medical procedures including forced sterilisations and abortions. Between 2016 and 2018 the sterilization rates in Xinjiang rose seven-fold, and Uighur regions of Xinjiang have seen their birth rates fall by more than 60% between 2015 and 2018.

“It’s genocide, full stop. It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide. These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population.”

Joanne Smith Finley, Author of “Why Scholars and Activists Increasingly Fear a Uyghur Genocide in Xinjiang”

The study says that “those who remain outside the camps have been terrified into religious and cultural self-censorship through the threat of internment.” According to the authors of the study it was the leaking of Chinese governmental documents regarding the mass sterilisations, in June of this year, that led to growing numbers of experts to explicitly call what is happening in Xinjiang a genocide, rather than a “cultural genocide.” These documents, the study says, provide “incontrovertible evidence supporting the claims of what was now dozens of eyewitnesses.”

“The mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang has horrifying echoes of the 1930s. There have been similar atrocities since, and each time the world has promised to never allow such violations to happen again”

Tim Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee

There has, so far, been no response from the Ireland Government on the publication of the study, but it is not the first piece of work arguing that one of Ireland’s most important trading partners is now actively carrying out genocide.

We’ve asked both the Department of Foreign Affairs and Simon Coveney if the release of a study highlighting a growing acceptance that what is happening in China is genocidal, and which explicitly says that the activity of the Chinese “echoes” the early activity of the Nazi regime, will change our approach to China, but at time of print we hadn’t received a response. We’ll update this article if one is received.