A Columbia University professor co-authored an article arguing that Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang province of China are not facing genocide.
Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University, and William Schabas, a professor of law at Middlesex University in London, penned an op-ed in Project Syndicate arguing that “genocide” is an inappropriate charge against a country that is detaining a minority group against their will.
The duo also argues that China is justified in taking action against Uyghurs because the minority group is akin to terrorists who attacked the United States in September 2001.
“The US government needlessly escalated its rhetoric against China by claiming that a genocide is being mounted against the Uighur people in the Xinjiang region,” the article reads. “We must understand the context of the Chinese crackdown in Xinjiang, which had essentially the same motivation as America’s foray into the Middle East and Central Asia after the September 2001 attacks: to stop the terrorism of militant Islamic groups.”
USA Today notes that China views Uyghurs as a risk because the group seeks religious freedom and autonomy, which is a threat to the Communist Party’s regional dominance.
“The Chinese Communist government views the Uighurs as a threat in part because some have sought great autonomy or even a separate state,” USA Today’s Deirdre Shesgreen wrote. “Chinese government officials allege there are extremists within the Uighur community and have said their campaign to ‘re-educate’ the Uighurs is justified by terrorism concerns.”
On the final day of the Trump administration, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially charged China with committing “genocide” against Uyghurs. There is bipartisan agreement on this issue as President Joe Biden’s administration formalized accusations that China has engaged in “genocides and crimes against humanity.”
Sachs and Schabas’s article admits that there are “credible charges of human rights abuses” against Uyghurs, though they do not believe that the U.S. has reached the burden of proof necessary to judge whether the ongoing actions constitute genocide.
However, as the duo notes, “imposing measures intended to prevent births within a group” is a recognized act of genocide under the Geneva Convention. According to a report from The Guardian, a teacher coerced into teaching classes in Xinjiang internment camps described the ongoing forced sterilization of women as part of the Chinese government’s campaign to suppress birth rates among Muslims.
Sachs and Schabas insist that the United Nations investigate the internment camps in China to determine whether Western countries are accurate in calling the ongoing situation a genocide.
Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley told The Daily Wire that these academics are parroting “Communist propaganda” as the U.S. clearly knows that China has detained over one million Uyghurs.
“Communist China has detained over a million Uyghurs — many have been raped, sterilized, and forced into slave labor,” Haley said. “Yet, these ‘academics’ are ready to criticize America and parrot communist propaganda. What a joke.”
Seldom journalists and experts have been able to observe the ongoing atrocities at the internment camps, though survivors have recounted their torture. Studies and experts have also documented routine instances of forced sterilization, rape, torture, and forced labor of Uyghurs.
A report by Newslines Institute for Strategy and Policy found that Uyghurs have been detained for numerous reasons and Xinjiang has criminalized “virtually all Islamic matters.” Reasons for detainment include attending religious ceremonies, refusing to marry non-Uyghurs, and wearing veils, or having beards.
Columbia University did not respond to request for comment.