Chinese University’s Uyghur Crimes Linked To ICC – OpEd


The East Turkistan Government in Exile(ETGE) notes with concern the announcement from the International Criminal Court that it has held a Chinese edition of its ICC Moot Court Competition at the ICC, with Tsinghua University winning.

ETGE has submitted a request on behalf of Uyghur victims to the ICC to investigate the alleged genocide and widespread international crimescommitted against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples over which the Court has jurisdiction.

The case was originally submitted to the ICC Prosecutor on 6 July 2020. Since then, three sets of further submissions have been filed, in June 2021November 2021 and June 2022.

Salih Hudayar, the Prime Minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile said, “We are deeply dismayed that while Uyghur victims are imploring the ICC to investigate their cases where it can to uphold justice, the ICC is at the same time hosting a university from China which has played a pivotal role in shaping the very campaign to target and persecute the Uyghur population in Chinese Occupied East Turkistan and abroad. It is most hurtful to those who have already suffered so much as result of the attacks on Uyghurs.”

Hudayar said, “It is well-established that Tsinghua University has had a key part in the repression, surveillance and persecution of Uyghurs in East Turkistan and abroad. The ICC should be aware of these reports and should certainly not be ignoring them as if everything is normal in its dealings with such bodies.”

In particular, it is widely reported that Tsinghua University is labelled as “China’s MIT” owing to its reputation in science and technology. It is the alma mater of prominent leadership figures including Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao. It is designated “very high risk” because of its conduct of high level defence research and alleged involvement in cyber attacks.

Tsinghua University’s laboratory is partnered with iFlytek, whose technology is allegedly used in the surveillance and oppression of Uyghurs. The company has been banned by the US government from conducting business with American firms owing to its role in repression of Uyghurs.

Moreover, there is very concerning involvement in the policy behind the targeting of Uyghurs.

Tsinghua University’s Institute for Contemporary China Studies is a think tank within the university, the Director is the influential Hu Angang. The party-state has adopted at least seven of his recommended policies. In 2011 he co-authored a paper entitled ‘Second Generation Ethnic Policy’ with Hu Lianhe, a Chinese Government official and Tsinghua academic. 

They wrote: “Any nation’s long-term peace and stability is founded upon building a system with a unified race (a state-race) that strengthens the state-race identity and dilutes ethnic group identity”.

These ideas are reported to have formed the intellectual basis for the internment camps and policies intended to dilute Uyghur ethnic identity.

ETGE’s submissions to the ICC have set out the evidence of such policies and how they have been used inter alia to capture and deport Uyghurs from Tajikistan (an ICC State Party) and other countries in order to detain and target them in East Turkistan and China – a pattern of criminal conduct which gives the ICC jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those responsible given that a part of the crimes occur on the territory of an ICC State Party.

Rodney Dixon KC, Counsel for ETGE and Uyghur victims said, The ICC should be particularly sensitive to the very troubling links between Tsinghua University and the continuing persecution of Uyghurs in East Turkistan and internationally. It should thus be especially cautious in inviting these bodies to the Court and should rather be prioritising the investigation of the grave international crimes perpetrated against Uyghurs over which the Court can rightly exercise its jurisdiction.

The East Turkistan Government in Exile

East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE) represents East Turkistan and its people. The ETGE aims to end Chinese occupation and restore East Turkistan’s independence.

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