Uighurs Accuse China of Mass Detention, Torture in Landmark Complaint

It is the first time members of the minority group have sought to use international law to hold Beijing accountable for their alleged mistreatment

In this Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, a Uyghur woman holds a child in her home as they prepare food during the Corban Festival in Turpan County, in the far western Xinjiang province, China.
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

For the first time, a minority group in China is seeking to use international law to hold Beijing accountable for their alleged mistreatment, including mass internment and repressive measures against their religion, NBC News reports.

Two organizations of Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority group historically living in what is now northwest China, sent a complaint to the International Criminal Court, accusing the Chinese government and specific senior officials of crimes against humanity, torture and genocide.

A similar litany of allegations formed the basis of fresh visa restrictions that President Donald Trump’s administration introduced in July for several Chinese officials, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo citing "forced labor, arbitrary mass detention, and forced population control" in the autonomous territory of Xinjiang.

The broader allegations filed with the court, widely known as the ICC, are that the Chinese government enforced birth control and sterilization programs among the Uighur population, carried out mass surveillance and massacres inside Xinjiang, and coerced some individuals into becoming informants on Uighurs living overseas.

Beijing has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of the Uighur minority and insists its actions in Xinjiang have been taken to combat terrorism. The dearth of independent reporting in Xinjiang makes it difficult to assess the scale of terrorist and militant attacks there, but there is no question the region has witnessed multiple deadly assaults on civilian, military and government targets over the past decade.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com

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