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The UN Uyghur Report, One Week Later: Three Lessons China May Learn

The report itself is one lesson, the inability to block it is another, and the ineffectiveness of propaganda is the third.

By Kok Bayraq

September 7, 2022

Bitter Winter’s now world-famous 2018 image from inside one of the dreaded transformation through education camps in Xinjiang.

The UN’s Uyghur Report attracted worldwide attention and was significant not only for its alarming content, but also because of (a) China’s fierce and consistent attempts to block its publication and (b) High Commissioner Bachelet’s agreement with China and subsequent delay of its publication. In addition to the report’s content, there are three major lessons for China to learn from the process of the report’s publication.

China criticized the report as misinformation by anti-Chinese forces. However, 90% of the facts in the report are taken from China’s own documents, bulletins, and white papers; 5% are from the UN’s own interviews; and 5% are from the reports of independent experts.

Notably, even though 50 Uyghur organizations, such as the World Uyghur Congress, are at the forefront of introducing the Uyghur massacre to the world, Zumrat Davut’s, Mihrigul Tursun’s and Tursunay Ziyadun’s reports and statements from about 30 camp witnesses have not been quoted. There is also no mention of 6 reporters from Radio Free Asia (RFA) who revealed the news of the camps in the region and whose 46 family members were jailed as a result, nor of Bitter Winter, which published in 2018 the first images and video from inside a camp (the reporter who sent them to Bitter Winter was jailed too). Also, if the information from the Uyghur Department of RFA from 2017–2020 were translated and arranged, a more powerful report would have been produced to further prove the crimes against humanity.

Uyghur activists and journalists were not eliminated from the sources of this report because of the length of their texts or any weakness in the facts they were reporting. It was done to protect the objectivity of the report and not to leave room for a discussion of their opinions.

Objectivity is the secret of not being blocked by the UN Human Rights Council, of which China is a member, and where representatives of countries friendly to Beijing are in the majority. The Chinese authorities, who have been denying the Uyghur genocide for six years with their tens of thousands of press corps and diplomats, must realize and accept that the way to convince the world is to be objective. Therefore, the first lesson that China should learn from the report is that propaganda is generally effective only in China; it will rarely work in the international community. When China’s oldest friends are mentioned, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, and Iran may come to mind. If we consider who represents the close friends of Chinese leaders, we will think of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan, and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. In my view, Michelle Bachelet is also one of China’s closest longtime friends. Her condolences for Cuban President Fidel Castro and nostalgic memories of Eastern Europe show that she is a politician who cannot escape the influence of communism. She has praised China since her youth.

Bachelet with Fidel Castro. From Twitter.

This preference was again evidenced by Ms. Bachelet’s great enthusiasm for meeting with Chinese leaders during her visit to China this year, by her turning a blind eye to the genocide during her visit to Uyghur land, and by her delay in the publication of the “Uyghur Report” until the last minutes of her tenure. China has written that Ms. Bachelet is a passionate admirer of its human rights record. However, even as a friend, supporter, and admirer of China, she was not able to stand on China’s side on the issue of the Uyghur genocide. This is an extraordinary event—like the separation of a child from its parents. Therefore, the second lesson that China should learn from this event is that the effect of the crime it has committed on the hearts of others is to show how terrifying, disgusting, and repulsive its regime is. At this point, China should remember that the tragedy described in the report is a minor piece of the entire picture of the Uyghur genocide. The total number of dead and horrific physical conditions of detainees in the camps have not yet been exposed by the OHCHR.

To date, China has defended itself from accusations of committing the Uyghur genocide by having representatives from diplomatically close countries in the Middle East visit the region and by hosting ambassadors from economically dependent countries in Africa with their wives, teaching them how to swallow the country’s narrative of the Uyghur situation.

According to China’s foreign ministry website, China organized a visit for more than 1,000 representatives from more than 50 countries to “Xinjiang” in 2018, but no single Western country or independent research agency was allowed to investigate. Thus, China is trying to defend the Uyghur genocide by relying on its strength and exploiting the facts that the majority of the world’s population has a financial need and that the majority of the world’s countries have weak democratic structures. China overestimates its role as a superpower, and underestimates the moral standards of humanity. China not only believes that it can silence developing and underdeveloped countries with “visits” and propaganda but also that it can close the mouths of Western countries with trade.

Therefore, the third lesson that China should learn is that modern science and technology, which have increased China’s national power, are also giving something to humanity—a sense of wealth, honor, and justice. The publication of this report, despite the unprecedented campaign to block it, is the fruit of that sense of justice in humanity. Therefore, a country that commits crimes against humanity and commits genocide cannot be a world leader. Humanity is not foolish and ignorant enough to allow this.

If China can learn these three lessons, it will eliminate its crude fantasy of protecting national security and creating national unity by eradicating the Uyghurs from Earth. It will also lead to abandoning the use of the Native American tragedy in the US that happened some 200 years ago as a compass and shield for the Uyghur genocide. These lessons will lay the groundwork for the implementation of the report’s recommendations.

Chinese security drill in Kashgar, Xinjiang. From the Xinjiang Police Files.

On the other hand, if China doesn’t learn from the Uyghur Report, these calls and recommendations in the report will remain part of what the European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrel has described as the ongoing conversations with Chinese leaders: “a dialog of deaf.” This report is an appeal all to open the world’s ears. But the ears of the Chinese leaders have so far remained closed.

China should also be patient enough to listen Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer’s call following the report: “As always, China once again denied the Uyghur report published by the UN.

They should realize that this report is not a blow to China, but a great opportunity for China to recognize the extent of its crimes and prevent further damage to itself. Because the victims of crimes against humanity are not only the objects of the crime, but also the subjects and witnesses.” “I believe that today the world accuses China of committing crimes against humanity, she continued, and tomorrow it will be able to punish China for these crimes. The extended time of crime will further increase China’s accountability; backtracking from the criminal path will become more difficult.”

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