As the US government’s propaganda campaign against China drags on, a mock tribunal has become a central node for the dissemination of allegations of Uyghur genocide to Western media. But behind the carefully scripted horror stories conveyed to the public by an uncritical media are massive discrepancies, overt separatist sentiments, and huge sums of US government money.
This June, Uyghur separatists and Washington-funded operatives of the human rights industry organized a “Uyghur Tribunal” to build the case over 80 tedious hours of testimony that the Chinese government is guilty of the crime of genocide in its western Xinjiang province.
While the mock tribunal presented itself as “independent,” it was organized by a US government-funded separatist group that for years has played a key role in generating anti-China propaganda.
To help buttress the narratives spun out of the spectacle, major media organizations such as CNN have generated various sideshows featuring star witnesses from the tribunal. In the process, they have inadvertently exposed major inconsistencies in the witness testimonies, exposing the entire exercise as another Western information weapon deployed against a targeted nation.
The US government claims that China is carrying out genocide against ethnic Uyghurs, many of whom are Muslim, in an effort to erase them culturally. This has provided the narrative basis for high-profile media spectacles like the Uyghur Tribunal.
No motivation or context is provided to explain why China’s government would be carrying out such putative abuses.
In reality, a campaign of terrorism in pursuit of separatism was unfolding in China’s Xinjiang region from the early 1990s onward. A violent extremist minority of Uyghurs had been radicalized by Wahhabi fundamentalism imported from Saudi Arabia, as the LA Times explained in 2016.
The resulting terrorism not only targeted aspects of the Chinese state, but also fellow Uyghurs who refused to adopt this imported extremist ideology.
While the Western media makes little to no mention of this extreme violence now, in order to depict security operations in Xinjiang as senselessly “repressive,” media organizations like the BBC were more than happy to report on the murder and mayhem as it unfolded, and to highlight Beijing’s apparent helplessness against it at the time.
A 2014 BBC article, titled “Why is there tension between China and the Uighurs?”, provided an extensive list illustrating the horrific nature of these attacks, from ethnic rioting that killed 200 in the regional capital of Urumqi in 2009 to an attempted aerial hijacking by Uyghur militants in 2012.
In April and June 2013, police opened fire on a separatist mob armed with knives in Xinjiang’s Shanshan county, which was attacking local government buildings, leading to 27 deaths.
This bloody incident was followed by mass casualty assaults by Uyghur separatists that killed more than 30 in Urumqui in May 2014, as well as bomb and knife attacks in local transportation hubs and mosques that left close to 150 dead that year.
Attacks by Uyghur separatists also killed 20 in downtown Bangkok in 2015, while thousands of others flooded into Al Qaeda-controlled areas of Syria to participate in the NATO-backed dirty war against Damascus, with explicit plans to take the fight back to China.
That this extensive terrorism and extremism, covered at length years ago, is no longer mentioned by the very same media organizations reporting on the “Uyghur Tribunal” today is an obvious indicator of not only the deception at work, but the level of coordination involved.
Articles from Western media organizations including State Department-directed Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, US government-funded CodaStory, British state-backed BBC, France24, the Associated Press, ABC Australia, Qatari state media Al Jazeera, The Hill, and the Washington Post each took turns falsely claiming the tribunal was “independent” and had “no state backing.”
Without a hint of critical detachment, the media disseminated firsthand accounts of systematic abuse against Uyghurs by the Chinese government, either making no mention of Xinjiang-based separatist violence or describing the bloodshed only in the context of why China “claims” it enacted security measures in its western territory.
Media accounts also failed to examine the tribunal’s claim to be “independent” and not sponsored by any government.
On the Uyghur Tribunal’s own official website, on a page titled “About,” the event admits that the US-government funded World Uyghur Congress launched the tribunal through Sir Geoffrey Nice, a British jurist whose services have been contracted by the government of Qatar.
As The Grayzone previously reported, Nice was part of a Qatari-sponsored regime-change team targeting Syria, and was hired to legitimize the dubious “Caesar files” used to gin up support in Washington for imposing harsh sanctions on Damascus.
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC), for its part, is funded by the US government through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Washington’s funding arm for political interference worldwide and admittedly the inheritor of the CIA’s regime-change activities.
The WUC is a separatist political organization that refers to Xinjiang as “East Turkestan,” and claims it is “occupied” by China.
While the WUC says it is a “nonviolent and peaceful opposition movement,” it has proven indifferent to the use of violence in pursuit of its separatist agenda.
In 2014, the Uyghur imam of China’s largest mosque, Jume Tahir, mentioned above in the BBC report, was stabbed to death by separatists. World Uyghur Congress spokesman Dilxat Raxit responded, in a quote in the New York Times, by blaming the Chinese government and condemning the “harsh sentences” handed out to the murderers.
In addition to initiating the tribunal, the World Uyghur Congress funded it.
On a second page on the Uyghur Tribunal website, regarding funding, it claims, “A crowdfunder page has raised nearly £250 000, with an initial amount of around $115 000 dollars donated by the Uyghur diaspora through the World Uyghur Congress.”
The crowdfunding effort had 764 supporters, meaning the average donation would have been around 330 British pounds. A look at actual donations revealed far less from identifiable donors, with the bulk of the funding from anonymous supporters dumping thousands to tens of thousands of pounds into the campaign at a time. This included two anonymous donations of 55,000 and 66,000 pounds respectively, amounting to nearly half of the total sum raised.
The World Uyghur Congress itself has but one provable stream of income: that of the US government’s annual grants through the NED.
According to Voice of America, the World Uyghur Congress’s UK project director, Rahime Mahmut, also staffed the tribunal – yet another blatant conflict of interest.
The other organization mentioned as a partner in launching the Uyghur Tribunal was the Coalition for Genocide Response.
The team behind this operation includes Ewelina Ochab, who has already concluded that “genocide” is taking place in Xinjiang, as well as Geoffery Nice, who chaired the Uyghur Tribunal and had previously chaired the equally dubious prequel to it, the “China Tribunal.”
Luke de Pulford is also a member of the Coalition for Genocide Response, and is admittedly an “adviser” to the US government-funded World Uyghur Congress.
Listed under patrons of the coalition is retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, who previously headed a similar propaganda stunt, a UN inquiry into alleged human rights abuses in North Korea. That spectacle relied on “witness” testimony, lacking any physical evidence to substantiate any of the claims made during its proceedings. One of the star witnesses of the North Korea inquiry, Shin Dong-hyuk, later admitted to lying about his testimony.
Organizations listed as part of the Coalition for Genocide Response include the “End Transplant Abuse in China” or ETAC. ETAC had initiated the previous “China Tribunal” and includes 20-year National Endowment for Democracy regional director Louisa Greve as part of its “international advisory committee.”
Lousia Greve now works for the US NED-funded Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), which also participated in the Uyghur Tribunal.
It is now abundantly clear that a network of related organizations has been created to churn out tribunals, inquiries, and reports targeting nations that Washington seeks to coerce, undermine, or destabilize internally, all based on dubious allegations of human rights abuses.
The production of stories of “incubator babies” and “weapons of mass destruction” has been industrialized and replicated on a global scale. And the latest product off the regime-change assembly line is the Uyghur Tribunal.
Those appearing before the Uyghur Tribunal panel included the president of the US government-funded World Uyghur Congress, Dolkun Isa, who personally initiated the tribunal and provided a statement on June 4, 2021.
Other members of US government-financed organizations participating in the so-called tribunal included Muetter Illiqud of the NED-funded Uyghur Transitional Justice Database, Rushan Abbas and Julie Millsap of the NED-funded Campaign for Uyghurs, Bahram Sintash and Elise Anderson of the aforementioned NED-funded Uyghur Human Rights Project, and Laura Harth of Safeguard Defenders, formerly known as China Action and funded by the NED.
The World Uyghur Congress is listed by name, along with the UHRP, Campaign for Uyghurs, and the Uyghur Refugee Relief Fund, on the official US NED website, under “Xinjiang/East Turkestan 2020.”
On another NED page titled “Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act Builds on Work of NED Grantees,” the Uyghur Transitional Justice Database Project is also listed as receiving money from the US regime-change arm.
Adrian Zenz of the US government-sponsored Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) also provided a statement at the tribunal, as did Shohret Hosur who works for the State Department’s Radio Free Asia.
Zenz, as The Grayzone has reported, is a Christian fundamentalist responsible for an array of reports alleging forced sterilization and genocide by Chinese authorities which have been marred by major errors, statistical manipulation, and retractions.
Other participants in the tribunal include Mihrigul Tursun, who was awarded the NED-affiliated Citizen Power Award in 2018; Sayragul Sauytbay, who received the 2020 State Department Women of Courage Award; and IPVM, a video surveillance information service previously commissioned by the US government to conduct research on Chinese surveillance programs in Xinjiang.
Also present was Sean Robert, a senior advisor from 1998 to 2006 to the USAID mission in Central Asia – the area bordering China’s Xinjiang region. Robert has been active in promoting US government-funded propaganda regarding Xinjiang for years, alongside mainstays like Rushan Abbas and Louisa Greve.
Nearly every other “witness” brought before the so-called tribunal has a long-established history of participating in this US government-funded propaganda campaign aimed at China and its alleged abuses in Xinjiang.
This includes Omir Bekali, who was previously invited to testify in front of the US Congress in 2018; Asiye Abdulahed, who claims to be the source of the so-called “China Files”; Zumret Dawut, whose allegations were used by former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in attacks aimed at China; and Tursunay Ziyawudun, who spoke in front of Congress in 2021.
There were also Westerners representing corporate-funded think tanks long engaged in anti-China propaganda who provided statements to the tribunal, such as Nathan Ruser of the US State Department-funded Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI); Darren Byler and Jessica Batke of “ChileFile,” a subsidiary of Asia Society funded by the Australian and Japanese governments as well as Open Society Foundations; and Charles Parton of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), funded by the US State Department, the EU, Canada, Qatar, Britain, Japan, and Australia, as well as arms manufacturers like BAE, Airbus, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics.
While located in the UK, the overwhelming influence the US government has over those participating in the Uyghur Tribunal is self-evident, and to such an extent that claiming it has “no state backing” is entirely inaccurate.
The testimony itself was tedious, even by the standards of mock tribunals, with a total of nearly 80 hours recorded and uploaded to the Uyghur Tribunal’s YouTube channel. Spot checking of the testimony, however, reveals some fairly serious discrepancies.
On the first day of the tribunal, Muetter Illiqud of the US government-funded Uyghur Transitional Justice Database provided conflicting total numbers of Uyghurs allegedly interned, as well as contraditory accounts of Chinese government restrictions on the number of children permitted in cities and in rural villages.
After failing to explain the discrepancies, Illiqud was invited by Geoffrey Nice, chair of the tribunal, to return in September with the contradictions resolved.
Gulzire Alwuqanqizi, who provided her statement with an NED-affiliated “ChinaAid” banner behind her, claimed in her written statement that she was forced to work in a factory for a month and a half (approximately 45 days), where she claims to have made over 2,000 gloves. Yet in her spoken statement, she claimed she was never able to meet the daily quota of 20 gloves and instead made only 11 to 12. If that is true, Alwuqanqizi would have produced at most 540 gloves. She was never asked to clarify why her written statement failed to match her verbal claims.
Alwuqanqizi also claimed she was caught sending photos of the factory to her husband. She alleged: “One day, I took a picture of the factory and sent it to him. From there it became public. Following this, I was interrogated, they asked the same questions they had always asked, all night long, but eventually they let me go.”
Yet in her spoken statement, Alwuqanqizi claimed: “At the factory where we were producing the gloves, I sent a photo and as punishment I was put in something like a ditch, a 20 meter deep well. They threw some electric currents at me, they poured water on me, and kept me there for 24 hours.”
The panel interviewing Alwuqanqizi was also silent about her glaring inconsistency.
In any 80-hour-long proceeding, there are bound to be some inconsistencies from participants. However, when the Uyghur Tribunal panel was confronted with glaring ones, it took no action, skipping past them, excusing them, or allowing witnesses to alter their claims at a later date to iron out obvious contradictions.
Of course, few people will likely watch any of the testimony first hand, let alone cross-examine the spoken statements with their written statements to examine the obvious discrepancies. Instead, the general public will rely on the Western media’s interpretations of cherry-picked highlights designed to prey on people’s emotions and advance the predetermined conclusion that, yes, China is committing “genocide.”
Among the tribunal’s participants was Omir Bekali, who was also featured in a CNN article report on a supposed former Chinese police officer referred to as “Jiang.” Jiang claims to have taken part in the abuses in Xinjiang.
The CNN piece was clearly intended to reinforce the narrative that the Uyghur Tribunal seeks to cement in international media. Instead, it ended up producing what were perhaps the event’s most damning and contradictory claims.
Although CNN called the alleged police officer Jiang, he was referred to as “Wang Leizhan” in the tribunal.
In his testimony at the tribunal in June, Jiang said that he never participated in interrogations. Further, he stated they took place in an entirely separate facility.
Yet Jiang was presented by CNN later in October as having not only presided over interrogations, but having carried out specific acts of torture while doing so.
During the tribunal in June, Jiang claimed never to have witnessed sexual abuse of any kind and never even so much as asked about it. When talking to CNN, however, he discussed various types of sexual abuse he alleges took place, including rape.
CNN never bothered to explain whether he saw this firsthand, heard it from others, or participated in it directly. CNN also never explained why his claims contradicted his statements during the June tribunal.
In fact, CNN is one of the few Western media outlets that appears not to have covered the Uyghur Tribunal. In its October video and accompanying article, CNN never even mentioned the tribunal, failing to disclose that all three alleged witnesses featured in its report were also Uyghur Tribunal participants: Jiang / Wang Leizhan,” Omir Bekali, and Abduweli Ayup have written statements on the tribunal’s official website.
Another sideshow took place this September in Switzerland. A Reuters article titled “China accuses Washington of ‘low political tricks’ over Uyghur exhibit” reported: “A U.S.-backed Uyghur photo exhibit of dozens of people who are missing or alleged to be held in camps in Xinjiang, China, opened in Switzerland on Thursday, prompting Beijing to issue a furious statement accusing Washington of ‘low political tricks”.”
The article also claimed: “The United States gave a financial grant for the exhibit, which will later travel to Brussels and Berlin, the World Uyghur Congress told Reuters. Earlier this week, the U.S. mission in Geneva displayed it at a diplomatic reception, according to sources who attended.”
A U.S. mission spokesperson said, “We are committed to placing human rights at the center of our China policy, and we will continue to highlight the grave human rights abuses we see the PRC [People’s Republic of China] committing across China, in Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, and elsewhere.”
When the Uyghur Tribunal arrives at its “final ruling,” expected in December 2021, just ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, its conclusions are set to be weaponized by a fully complicit Western media, to try to convince the public that China is carrying out genocide and must be confronted.
The Uyghur Tribunal and those participating in it are presented to the public as human rights advocates concerned about the situation in Xinjiang. Upon closer examination it is clear this framing is a cynical smokescreen. In fact, the Uyghurs involved in the tribunal and the wider US-funded “Uyghur genocide” propaganda machine are part of a clear separatist campaign.
There was no discussion in the Uyghur Tribunal of the constant use of the name “East Turkestan” instead of Xinjiang. This term was used not only by those giving statements, but even by members of the tribunal’s panel.
Careful observers may have noticed an overabundance of light-blue flags emblazoned with white crescents in the background of offices from which participants gave video statements.
These flags are East Turkestan separatist flags. At one point in the proceedings, pro-separatist activist Arslan Hidayat was seen interpreting for at least two witnesses. Hidayat has repeatedly called for Xinjiang to be ethnically cleansed of Han Chinese, and has advocated for the use of violence to do so.
While articles in the NED-funded CodaStory have featured Hidayat’s photo, no mention of his advocacy for violence is ever made.
The nakedly separatist views exhibited by most people involved in the tribunal is perhaps the most substantial factor in its lack of legitimacy. But as with many of the deceptions and discrepancies in – not to mention the deep US government links to – the tribunal, the Western media turned a blind eye.
It is simply impossible that the press could be so ignorant about the real ulterior separatist agenda of the Uyghur Tribunal and those involved in it. Its refusal to provide the public with this critical context further illustrates how a carefully choreographed narrative has been stripped of reality and disseminated to escalate a new cold war.
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