During the past five years, human rights activists and journalists have amassed an array of evidence to bolster claims that China is waging genocide against the ethnic Uyghur people of Xinjiang Autonomous Zone. The evidence includes satellite images and thousands of gathered testimonies from concentration camp survivors and guards, along with testimony of the relatives of those who haven’t been seen or heard from in years.
More tellingly however, now there are leaked Chinese government documents, including an order from President Xi Jinping himself, commanding Communist Party officials in Xinjiang to “show them no mercy.”
The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, and the Netherlands have looked at the evidence and concluded that China’s persecution of 13 million ethnic Uyghurs constitutes “genocide.” Other countries have couched their denials and passivity behind statements suggesting that the evidence does not rise to the level of a “smoking gun.”
Last week, the smoking chamber of a metaphorical Colt .45 revealed itself, when anonymous hackers leaked a huge cache of documents from Xinjiang Police Department. The trove of speeches, images, documents, and spreadsheets has been authenticated through peer-reviewed scholarly research. It includes 2,800 photographs, 300,000 personal records, 23,000 detainee records, and 10 concentration camp instructions.
Photographs show the faces of thousands of Uyghur detainees, most of whom have been thrown into China’s vast network of concentration camps for such “crimes” as growing a beard, communicating with relatives overseas, traveling abroad, or studying Islam.
The Uyghur’s nightmarish reality in those camps includes eyewitness accounts of torture, sexual assault, forced family separations, forced abortions, forced sterilizations, and forced disappearance, as revealed recently by the Uyghur Tribunal.
The evidence is clear. China is committing systematic genocide against the Uyghur people of Xinjiang, leaving no excuse for governments and corporations who continue to benefit or profit from denying this reality.
One such beneficiary of Uyghur genocide denialism is the London Policing College (LPC), which was found to have declared partnerships with eight universities in China, with at least some of them tied to policing and “counterterrorism” measures in Xinjiang, according to a newly published report by UK registered charity Freedom From Torture.
LPC is a private, UK-based corporation that delivers training to police departments around the world, with help from the UK government. It’s now under fire for providing training to China’s elite policing university—the Beijing-based People’s Public Security University of China (PPSUC), which focuses heavily on counter-terrorism strategies and tactics, many of which were adopted from the UK government’s counter-violent-extremism program called “Prevent UK,” according to the authors of the report.
Prevent UK has been slammed by academics and human rights experts for discriminating against Muslims, reinforcing policies that both “militarize the state” and encourage a pre-crime logic to apprehending criminal suspects. The Chinese government praised the Prevent strategy, saying, “The concept of preventative intervention . . . is especially important to maximally weaken the impact of terrorism.”
To be clear, China uses “counter-terrorism” as a device to conceal its intent to annihilate and eliminate Uyghur culture from Xinjiang, which is why rights group Freedom From Torture warns that there “appears to be a significant risk that learning and exchange on counter-terrorism with a British provider with close ties to the UK police and Government, is being exploited to legitimise abusive policies targeting minorities, and align them with global counter-terrorism efforts.”
But the bigger issue here, according to Freedom From Torture, is that PPSUC engages in training, in cooperation with both the Xinjiang Police College and the Public Security Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which were sanctioned by the US government two years ago for their roles in the persecution of Uyghur Muslims.
The UK government also sanctioned the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in 2021, which effectively means that the UK government is funding a UK-based, private police training corporation that delivered “counter terrorism” training using UK government counter-violent-extremism strategies to a foreign government that the UK government has accused of committing genocide.
Tracy Doig, Freedom from Torture’s head of international advocacy, stated it more sanguinely in a recent interview, saying, “The UK Government has trumpeted its sanctions against Chinese officials over atrocities in Xinjiang, so it is deeply concerning that taxpayer money has been spent on partnerships with a Chinese police training provider that co-operates with its Xinjiang counterpart.”
The LPC has disputed allegations that it’s tied up with the same Xinjiang police departments responsible for committing genocide, saying it has “not been involved in commercial activities with police academies or universities in China since at least 2019.” Yet, Freedom from Torture claims it has evidence that LPC was engaged with Chinese institutions until late 2021.
Now that we have found the smoking gun, the UK government, along with the governments of other foreign countries, must conduct substantive due diligence and oversight on corporations that provide services to China to ensure that they are not entangled with the mechanics of genocide or participating in the implementation of genocidal policies.