By Owen Sawyer
On Thursday 22 April the House of Commons will take a vote which will be recorded in the same notorious category as the fake presentation of Colin Powell to the UN that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), which was used to launch the Iraq War, or the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of 1964 – used to launch the Vietnam war with the false claim that on 4 August North Vietnamese vessels had attacked US warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. The US is now spreading new lies, equivalent to ‘Iraq has WMD’ – this time claiming that China is carrying out a genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Real genocides and fake claims
There are, horrifically, numerous examples of real genocides in human history – constituting amongst the worst crimes ever committed, with perhaps only the Atlantic slave trade matching them. These include, but are not confined, to the following:
- The most recent well-known genocide was the holocaust against Jews by Nazi Germany. At least six million Jews were systematically exterminated.
- The largest mass genocide in history was against the indigenous population of the Americas by European states and settlers. In 1491, about 145 million indigenous people lived in the Americas. By 1691, the population of indigenous Americans had declined by 90– 95 percent. So great was the genocide created by the colonization of the Americas by Europeans it has been calculated that this resulted in climate change and global cooling.
- Smaller in absolute numbers, but in proportionate terms one of the most extreme genocides, was carried out under British rule against the indigenous population of Tasmania – more than 99% of the Tasmanian indigenous population died.
- The Armenian genocide saw the systematic mass murder and ethnic cleansing of around one million ethnic Armenians from Asia Minor and adjoining regions by the Ottoman Empire and its ruling party during World War I.
- In 1994 a genocide was launched in Rwanda – leading to the killing of at least 500,000 people.
In contrast to these horrific events zero evidence of a supposed genocide against Uyghurs has been produced. Even the US Foreign Policy magazine, a frantic pursuer of the cold war against China, was embarrassingly forced to admit: “no evidence has emerged of mass killing.” As every real genocide has precisely involved mass killings this already destroys the argument that genocide is being perpetrated against Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Or, as once more Foreign Policy magazine concluded: “International courts have concluded that, for a crime to come within the definition in the [Genocide] Convention, the perpetrator must intend to destroy the relevant group in a biological or physical sense,” wrote Todd Buchwald, who served as the special coordinator for the State Department’s Office of Global Criminal Justice during the Obama administration, and Adam Keith, a former human rights specialist in the National Security Council, in an exhaustive study of U.S. decision-making on genocide.”
But even beyond the zero evidence for mass killings the population data from Xinjiang shows that this claim is utterly ridiculous – a lie on the level of WMD in Iraq.
Regarding the factual situation, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang grew from 5.55 million to 11.68 million in the 40 years 1978-2018 – i.e. it more than doubled. But in that period the total population of China grew by 46% while the Uyghur population grew by 110% – that is the Uyghur population grew more than twice as fast as the overall, majority Han, population of China. It is completely ludicrous to claim there has been a “genocide” when the population against which the “genocide” is supposedly being carried out was growing in size twice as fast as the rest of the population!
Why this more rapid growth of the Uyghur population of China than the majority Han population has taken place is also clear. Because under China’s one-child policy, which only recently ended, Han Chinese were only permitted one child, but ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, were allowed two. This was probably precisely because China did not want to, and did not want to be seen, as discriminating against ethnic minorities. Given this situation on family policy, of course, the Uyghur population increased much more rapidly than the Han Chinese population.
Again, it is literally absurd to claim a “genocide” in which those supposedly subject to this genocide, Uyghur families, were permitted to have more children than the Han Chinese. Perhaps someone will point to which of Hitler’s laws permitted Jews to have more children than other Germans?
CIA invented lies
Although even by itself it would not constitute a “genocide”, equally take the claim that there are a million Uyghurs in concentration camps in Xinjiang. If that were true, there would be a mass of satellite photos that would reveal what would be the massive number of such camps and the US would be displaying them all the time. Such photos don’t exist, and there is only one explanation – they don’t have such photos, because the camps don’t exist.
Similarly if there were really one million people in “concentration” camps in Xinjiang this would be almost one in ten of the Uyghur population. There would be literally millions and millions of Uyghur families with relatives in these “concentration camps”. There would be enormous numbers of witnesses – not the handful of those who claim to have evidence of this, who are being feted, and in some cases paid, in the US and who have also been shown to be giving self-contradictory statements.
The so-called claimed examples of “concentration camps” that have been presented usually turn out to be farcical – based on such features that there are buildings with external walls. In fact, obviously, numerous facilities have external walls for normal security reasons – factories, schools, government buildings etc.
As Chengxin Pan, a professor of international relations at Melbourne’s Deakin University, noted of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a body finance by the Australian Department of Defence: “ASPI’s report’s Turpan Detention Center Facility #7 & Facility #1 turn out to be Gaochang District Bureau for Veterans Affairs and Gaochang District Bureau for Business & Industry Informationisation respectively. The smoking gun is that they both have external walls!” (for examples see photos below)
And Pan noted: “I know anything lining up in a row (plus external walls) in China is suspect. So it’s fair game to speculate, but speculation has to have some factual foundations and be aware that anyone with relevant language skill, curiosity & time can fact-check.”
The non-existent “UN report”
Furthermore, to support claims of “genocide”, it is repeatedly claimed as evidence that there is a UN report saying there are one million Uyghur detainees in Xinjiang – although even that, while if it were true it would be example of mass incarceration it would not be evidence of genocide. But this claim is a straightforward lie. The real situation, as confirmed by UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights officials to the US media website The Grayzone is the following.
A spokesperson from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) confirmed in a statement to The Grayzone that the allegation of Chinese “camps” was not made by the United Nations, but rather by a member of an independent committee that does not speak for the UN as a whole. That member happened to be the only American on the committee, and one with no background of scholarship or research on China.
On August 10, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination conducted its regular review of China’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The review, which is conducted periodically for all 179 parties to the Convention, has generated a frenzied response by the Western corporate press — one which is uniformly misleading.
On the day of the review, Reuters published a report with an explosive headline: “U.N. says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.”
The claim was feverishly reproduced by outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. The impression readers were given was that the UN had conducted an investigation and had formally and collectively made such charges against China. In fact, the UN had done no such thing.
The headline of Reuters’ report attributed its explosive claim to the UN; yet the body of the article ascribed it simply to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. And this committee’s official website makes it clear that it is “a body of independent experts,” not UN officials.
What’s more, a look at the OHCHR’s official news release on the committee’s presentation of the report showed that the only mention of alleged re-education “camps” in China was made by its sole American member, Gay McDougall. This claim was then echoed by a Mauritanian member, Yemhelhe Mint Mohamed.
During the committee’s regular review of China, McDougall commented that she was “deeply concerned” about “credible reports” alleging mass detentions of millions of Uighurs Muslim minorities in “internment camps.” The Associated Press reported that McDougall “did not specify a source for that information in her remarks at the hearing.”
Video of the session confirms that McDougall provided no sourcing to back up her remarkable claim.
This is to say, one American member of an independent UN body made a provocative claim that China was interning 1 million Muslims, but failed to provide a single named source. And Reuters and the Western corporate media ran with it anyway, attributing the unsubstantiated allegations of one US individual to the UN as a whole.
In an email to The Grayzone, OHCHR spokesperson Julia Gronnevet confirmed that the CERD was not representative of the UN as a whole. “You are correct that the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an independent body,” Gronnevet wrote. “Quoted comments were made during public sessions of the Committee when members were reviewing State parties.”
Thus, the OHCHR implicitly acknowledged that the comments by McDougall, the lone American member of an independent committee, were not representative of any finding by the UN as a whole. The report by Reuters is simply false.
Most of these fake claims regarding Xinjiang can be traced back to a right-wing evangelical Adrian Zenz. Zenz set out his world view in a 2010 book called Worthy to Escape: Why All Believers Will Not Be Raptured Before the Tribulation. Zenz is not some dispassionate China expert, but an evangelical right-wing fanatic who has declared he has been “led by God” against the Communist Party of China, which he sees as a satanic entity. In his book, Zenz called for “scriptural spanking” or corporal punishment of unruly children and portrayed diversity and homosexuality as a demonic plot.
Regarding his view of Jews Zenz set this out on page 290 of his book: ”For the Jews, therefore, the wrath of God will prove to be both a blessing and a curse: for those who belong to the one third that will be refined in God’s fiery furnace and will end up obtaining salvation, ultimately, it will be a blessing. For those who are “rebels” and transgressors (Ezekiel 20:38) and who will perish in the process, a curse. According to Scripture, God’s refining process will wipe out all unbelieving Jews who refuse to come to Christ and leave only born-again Israelites to enter the millennial reign of Christ.”
Zenz is a research fellow at an organization called the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Yet Zenz is called upon as a leading “scholar” in US media on all things Xinjiang related.
The other source for the incendiary claim of “millions of Uygurs in camps” is an NGO called Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Yet again, this group is funded by the US government. As Ajit Singh revealed, Chinese Human Rights Defenders relied on testimonies from a grand total of eight Uyghurs from Xinjiang and extrapolated the population of the villages that these eight people inhabited into the total of anywhere between 250,000 and 1 million Uyghurs in concentration camps.
Another widely cited source regarding these accusations on the Uyghurs, Omer Kanat, was looked at by US journalist by Max Blumenthal.
Blumenthal notes: “My own experience as a journalist investigating the role of the US government in driving the media’s narrative on China began in earnest during a trip I took to Capitol Hill in 2018…
“The event was hosted by the National Endowment for Democracy, a US government-funded regime change organization that was created out of William Casey’s CIA during the Reagan administration.
“And it was there that I met someone called Omer Kanat, who is the head of the World Uyghur Congress. As the ceremony ended, I noticed the media surrounding this character and I wanted to know who he was.
“I realized that he was the head of a right-wing, anti-communist lobbying group funded entirely by the US government – very similar to the Cuban American National Foundation, or the Venezuelan groups created to give Juan Guaido and his allies a voice in Washington. They are dedicated to maintaining political pressure for a US policy of regime change, and to provide quotes to US media, which scarcely ever mentions their US government funding.
“I approached Omer Kanat and asked him about a narrative that was forming at that time, that I had heard repeated without a shred of skepticism in mainstream media about millions of Uygurs in the so-called concentration camps in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. I asked Kanat what the sources were for these staggering numbers? And he told me that one source was the World Uyghur Congress, which is, of course, funded by the US government, and which supplied many of these testimonies and the so-called ‘sources’ to US media.
“I pressed him on his sources, asking how reliable they were. Kanat said, ‘Well, our sources are Western media and some testimonies.’ He was describing a feedback loop between US media and his own network.
“This extremely dubious narrative has provided the basis for the US Congress to pass the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act and several attendant sanctions listings relating to Chinese policy in Xinjiang.
“And when you look at how these sources are cited in US media, whether it’s figures from the World Uyghur Congress, or Adrian Zenz, or Chinese Human Rights Defenders, there is no background or context given on what their political agenda is, or the fact that the US government has incubated these organizations and is funding them to the hilt.
“It’s the same with the raft of reports that emerged this year about forced labor in Xinjiang, which were published in coordination with congressional action against the Chinese government. As Ajit [Singh] reported for The Grayzone, sources for this explosive narrative boiled down once again to two sources with close ties to the US national security state. First, there was the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which is funded by the US State Department, the British Foreign Office, and the arms industry. The other source spinning out reports on forced labor in Xinjiang was the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, which is funded by the same exact elements – the arms industry, US State Department, and other foreign governments.
“While the hostile narrative propelling the new cold war will benefit only the most militaristic, right-wing elements in US society, it has been successfully marketed to the middle-class liberal intelligentsia through the language of humanitarian concern… These stories about Xinjiang are… where you put your career as a journalist in the US at risk in the name of “trivialities” such as the truth and global cooperation.
“We are witnessing the US wage a hybrid war on China. Part of this strategy entails information war, where reporters are transformed into frontline propaganda soldiers. Hovering over their laptop keyboards is the hidden hand of the US national security state.”
Who supports US lies on the Uyghurs?
Finally, because it is clear that the claim of “genocide” against Uyghurs in Xinjiang is false, which forces are lining up behind this farce? It is shown clearly in the map below on voting in the UN on this issue. Not a single African, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Asian or majority Muslim country supports the US lie. Its only supporters were the governments in the imperialist, overwhelmingly white, countries. In short not only the facts but the forces supporting the US confirms that this is a US lie.
WMD, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and other fakes
The absurdity of these claims of “genocide” of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and the origin of these claims in circles financed by the US intelligence services, is therefore clear from every angle. It corresponds to standard US practice when it wishes to launch aggression – in this case the cold war the US has launched against China.
In such situations the US intelligence services, as a standard practice, invent a big lie to accompany it. As was already noted, in the most notorious recent case of this, it was the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in order to launch the Iraq war – something which was, of course, proved to be a complete lie despite literally thousands of US media articles making that claim and an official report on it to the UN by then US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
In 1964 the same method of lying was used to claim that North Vietnamese vessels had attacked US warships in the Gulf of Tonkin – a claim that was used to justify the bombing of North Vietnam and to unleash the Vietnam War. Later the Pentagon Papers, the memoirs of Robert McNamara, and NSA publications from 2005, proved that the US government lied to justify a war against Vietnam. Pompeo, the former US CIA Director and Secretary of State, who launched the claims of “genocide” in Xinjiang explained these methods: “We lied, we cheated, we stole.”
Sometimes it is necessary to wait years before the lies of US intelligence agencies are definitively revealed. But numerous analysts have already revealed the US lies about Xinjiang as the above data already shows.
In a moral sense perhaps this US lie on “genocide” in Xinjiang is even more cynical than the lies around Iraq’s WMD or non-existent attacks by North Vietnamese vessels on US warships. Because there have been not imaginary but very real genocides in history against which humanity is rightly outraged and revolted. To use these terrible events to try to whip up hatred around a non-existent genocide is to use the memory of the victims of these fearful crimes in the most cynical way. It reveals the immoral depths to which the US intelligence services will sink.
The absurd situation in which some find themselves as a result of believing in typical US intelligence service lies on the Uyghurs is that even the Tory front bench understand that a declaration of a “genocide”, one of the most serious charges that could possibly be put forward, is something which is not to be decided by a vote in a legislature which will certainly be subject to political manipulation. It is something to be decided by thorough investigation and by international bodies and courts. No such investigation or decision exists for the very good reason that any such objective study, for the reasons already given, would rapidly conclude that the claim there was genocide against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang was farcical.
As regard this vote in Parliament on 22 April, there is a good saying that Parliament might pass a law saying that men and not women should have babies – but not one man will have a baby as a result. Parliament may pass a vote saying that there is a genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang but, extremely fortunately, no genocide will exist. In the end, with certainty, the truth – that there is no genocide against the Uyghurs – will come out just as the lies that were used to justify the disastrous US wars on Iraq and Vietnam were exposed. As it does all those who voted for this resolution will be discredited – just as shamefully as those who voted for the Iraq war or the Vietnam war on a pack of lies.