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US Holocaust Museum warns China 'may be committing genocide' against Uighurs

Report says Beijing could be moving beyond forced assimilation of the Muslim minority as it tries to 'biologically destroy the group'
Protesters with the Stanton Public Policy Center's Purple Sash Revolution hold a rally outside the White House on 27 May, 2021 in support of Uighur women and call for a boycott of the 2022 Olympic Games (AFP)

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum said in a report on Tuesday that it was "gravely concerned" that the Chinese government "may be committing genocide" against Uighur Muslims.

The abuses detailed in the report that was released by the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide include allegations of forced sterilisation, sexual violence, enslavement, torture and forcible transfer of Uighurs in the country's western Xinjiang region.

Citing witness testimony, publicly available information from dissidents and accounts provided by human rights groups, the report said that "recently surfaced information signals that the Chinese government's conduct has escalated beyond a policy of forced assimilation".

The report also described how Uighurs are detained based on non-criminal expressions of their culture and religion, such as "having religious marriage rites" or "donating to a mosque".

Once incarcerated they are forced to undergo re-education intended to erase their Uighur culture and their Islamic faith.

According to several reports, more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim people have been incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang in a bid to root out Islamic customs and forcibly integrate minorities.

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Uighurs showing adherence to conservative Islamic customs - including praying, fasting, abstaining from alcohol, growing a beard or wearing Islamic clothing - have been rounded up for the camps.

Tuesday's report also said that "hundreds of thousands of Turkic Muslim women have been subjected to mandatory pregnancy checks, forcible insertion of intrauterine devices (IUDs), and forced sterilizations and abortions".

One female detainee recounted how she was raped multiple times by police officers after they had beaten her, claiming, "Uyghur's should be treated like this".

"They raped me by inserting iron bars, electric batons, and other equipment into my genitals…The first time, I was raped by all three of them together. I remember it very clearly," she said.

The report also alleged that Beijing's policies were impacting the social and demographic fabric of the region, with the authors showing a decline of more than 100,000 births in Xinjiang.

The US and several other governments have already said that China's actions against Uighur Muslims and other minority populations amount to genocide.

Last month 43 countries signed a document at the UN raising alarm over China's use of detention camps while calling for international inspectors to be allowed "unfettered access" to Xinjiang.

China has denied the accusations of genocide and other human rights violations and says its policies are necessary to "fight extremism".