An independent, unofficial body set up by a prominent British barrister to assess evidence on China's alleged rights abuses against the Uighur people has concluded that the Chinese government committed genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Uighur Tribunal, made up of lawyers, academics and businesspeople, doesn't have any government backing or powers to sanction or punish China.
But organisers hope the process of publicly laying out evidence will compel international action to tackle Beijing's policies against the Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group.
Tribunal chair Geoffrey Nice said today the genocide ruling was based on evidence that the Chinese government's forced birth control and sterilisation policies targeting Uighurs in the far western Xinjiang province were "intended to destroy a significant part" of the group's population.
The abuse was part of comprehensive policies directly linked to President Xi Jinping and the highest levels of the Chinese government, he said.
Mr Nice, a senior lawyer, previously led the prosecution of ex-Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and has worked with the International Criminal Court.
"There has to be an intention to destroy, by the act of interfering with birth, a group," he said.
"The evidence was that a significant proportion of Uighurs who would have been born will not be born."
The Chinese Embassy in London condemned the tribunal as a "political tool used by a few anti-China and separatist elements to deceive and mislead the public".
The embassy also said in a statement that the policies in Xinjiang were aimed at fighting terrorism and preventing radicalisation.
"The 'Tribunal' and its so-called 'conclusions' are mere clumsy shows staged by anti-China elements for their self-entertainment. Anyone with conscience and reason will not be deceived or fooled," the embassy said.
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About 30 witnesses and experts gave evidence to a series of public hearings in central London earlier this year, alleging torture, forced abortions, rape and beatings by authorities while in state detention centres.
The hearings also reviewed large amounts of documents detailing other policies including the separation of young children from their families and widespread destruction of mosques.
The tribunal concluded that it was beyond doubt that crimes against humanity were committed.
Mr Nice said Mr Xi and other senior officials "bear primary responsibility" for what has occurred in Xinjiang.
"This vast apparatus of state repression could not exist if a plan was not authorised at the highest levels," he said.
An estimated 1 million people or more — most of them Uighurs — have been confined in reeducation camps in Xinjiang in recent years, according to researchers.
Earlier this year, the Australian Government backed international sanctions against two Chinese officials for "serious human rights abuses" against Uighur Muslims.
The US government has declared that Beijing's policies against the Uighurs amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity. Legislatures in Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada have done the same.