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Genocide accusations against China Sinophobic propaganda, says former UN expert

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-05-14 09:05
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Children have fun on Dove Lane in Hotan City, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, May 27, 2020. XINHUA

GENEVA -- The accusation of genocide against China is not supported by credible evidence and constitutes propaganda for war and Sinophobia, said a former UN expert.

Such an allegation is also contravening Article 20 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and is a "geopolitical weapon" against China, said Alfred de Zayas, former United Nations (UN) independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.


Noting that genocide is a well-defined crime under the 1948 Genocide Convention and Article 6 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, de Zayas said using the term requires a high level of proof, particularly as to the "intent" to "destroy in whole or in part" a group of people.

It is irresponsible to use the term loosely and without giving opportunity to the other side to contradict the allegation, he said.

"I was surprised. I am American, and I would expect that the US (2020) Country Reports on Human Rights (Practices) would be professional," he said, describing the report as "shoddy."

In the 2020 report issued by the US State Department late March, Washington accused China of "genocide," without, however, substantiating the claim. In his latest interview with CBS News, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken again accused China of so-called "genocide."

"This (2020) report was prepared, of course, in the Trump years, but I am not about to absolve the Biden administration of issuing this propaganda pamphlet. Blinken is himself a lawyer, and his advisors should have dissuaded him," said de Zayas.

"It diminishes our authority and our credibility to make allegations that are not backed up by solid evidence," he said.

It is not the first time Washington has targeted a country with false accusation. In his interview with Xinhua, de Zayas recalled propaganda used by former US President George W. Bush to prepare the assault on Iraq in 2003.

"We had (former US secretary of state) Collin Powell appear before the UN Security Council. He lied to the United Nations, he lied to the American people," he said.

"If you look at the organizations that have been peddling this kind of information, they are mostly United States-based think tanks or non-governmental organizations directly or indirectly financed by the United States. They work in collusion with a compliant corporate media that has its own geoeconomics interests," he added.

"If you look at the sources of their financing, you see the role of the National Endowment for Democracy and United States Agency for International Development," said de Zayas. "So their objectivity and their independence is very much in question."


"The nonsense takes a degree of respectability when it's peddled by supposed 'independent' experts, among them Gay McDougall," de Zayas said, referring to a US member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) who claimed in 2018 that there were credible reports about 1 million Uygurs being kept in "concentration camps."

McDougall made the claims "without backing it up with any evidence," de Zayas stressed, adding that after solid investigative journalism by American independent news website Grayzone, McDougall's claim was "pulled apart, and there is nothing behind it but propaganda."

"It was not a statement by the United Nations, nor was it a statement by the CERD. It was a statement by Ms. Gay McDougall, the American member in the CERD," he said.

According to the CERD's official website, the committee is "the body of independent experts," not UN officials.

"And this statement was taken by Reuters, and beautifully reported in the New York Times, Washington Post, in the entire world's press, (using) big words like '1 million Uygurs being subjected to forced labor,' '1 million Uygurs being kept in concentration camps'," he said.

The Grayzone report also revealed that McDougall made the allegation without providing any source to back up her explosive claim, and mainstream media tried to substantiate the story by referring to reports made by a China-bashing group based in Washington that depends heavily on US government grants.

"That is serious, because the failure here is not just that of one individual, Ms. Gay McDougall. She should have known better," said de Zayas. "In my entire career as a UN expert, as a Rapporteur, as a senior officer of the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, never did I make a statement I could not back up."

"The more worrisome aspect of it is that it was picked up by the mainstream media, it was magnified by the mainstream media, and it was disseminated worldwide to create the impression that if there is smoke, there must be fire, so the situation in Xinjiang must be horrendous," said de Zayas.


Anti-China forces have done more than fabricating facts. They refuse to recognize social and economic development and progress in human rights protection in Xinjiang, and turn a blind eye to crimes conducted by separatist groups which threaten peace and security in Xinjiang and other parts of China.

Washington removed the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a UN-listed terror group, from its terror list last year. The ETIM voiced support for an attack in China's southwestern city of Kunming in 2014 that killed 29 people and injured another 143.

In de Zayas' view, East Turkistan separatists have engaged in "criminal activities," for "they have demonstrably committed terrorist acts throughout Xinjiang, and not just now, but for the last 35 years."

"Obviously, because you have the obligation as a State to protect law and order, you have the obligation to take appropriate actions proportionate to the danger. I believe that is what was done (in Xinjiang)," he said.

After years of efforts in fighting violence, counter-terrorism and de-radicalization, Xinjiang, which suffered thousands of terrorist attacks between 1990 and 2016, is now at its best time in history, enjoying a stable society and a fast growing economy, and all ethnic groups there are living together in harmony.

Over the past 40 years, the Uygur population in Xinjiang has doubled from 5.55 million to over 12 million, while the gross domestic product (GDP) there has surged by more than 200 times in the past six-plus decades.

The lastest official data shows that from 2014 to 2019, Xinjiang's GDP increased from 919.59 billion yuan (about 142 billion US dollars) to 1.36 trillion yuan (about 210 billion dollars), with an average annual growth rate of 7.2 percent.

"To those who claim that China is destroying the Uygur culture, I say, prove it, because there are thousands of mosques in China and they function," de Zayas said.

"One thing that I noticed for Xinjiang is that even the money is in Uygur language, so it's not like minorities are being deprived of their language. The street names are both in Chinese and Uygur, so they do have minority rights," he added.

Accusing China of committing genocide without evidence, in the eyes of de Zayas, is "an insult, a lack of respect, a lack of compassion vis-a-vis the victims of genocide and their survivors, their families."

"Nobody really cares about the human rights of Uygurs in Washington. The allegation is a geopolitical weapon, a useful Kalashnikov in the propaganda war," he said.

"It is 'fake news', vulgar Sinophobia, and at the same time dangerous sabre-rattling, which is prohibited by Article 20 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," he said.

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