There is increasing evidence that proves the existence of the ongoing genocide suffered by the Uighur population under the communist regime in China. However, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has blocked any legal avenue for the victims to denounce within the country the persecution suffered by this millenary ethnic group by the repressive apparatus. 

In this sense, on Aug. 17, 2022, a buffet of lawyers representing two groups that defend Uighur rights traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Their purpose was to file a criminal complaint before the federal courts on behalf of the Uighur people against the CCP for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Why did they choose such a remote country, with no apparent connection to the Uighur cause and governed by a political party that explicitly states its desire to deepen political, commercial, economic, scientific and cultural cooperation relations with Beijing?

According to Michael Polak, a British lawyer who represented the Uighurs in the lawsuit against the CCP, the National Constitution of the Argentine Republic guarantees an appropriate framework of international jurisdiction to pursue the case.

According to the Argentine Constitution, the country’s courts have jurisdiction over international crimes such as genocide due to religious, political and racial persecution, regardless of where they are committed.

In addition, a series of lawsuits filed in the country that led to the arrest of former CCP leaders for persecuting practitioners of the Falun Dafa spiritual discipline set a precedent for facilitating a new investigation and opening a new case today. 

Spiritual persecution in Communist China

In China, spirituality and faith have always been rooted in the hearts of the people thanks to their traditional culture passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years.

But the CCP, obsessed with imposing atheism, has tried to impose it by force, breaking with the ideas and beliefs of the citizens using threats, terror and indoctrination to achieve its goals.

The Communist Manifesto, one of the fundamental books of the CCP, promotes the destruction of the family, the church and the nation-state. Therefore, eliminating and subverting religions and spiritual beliefs is one of the main objectives of communism, as stated in its most fundamental ideology.

Among the victims of the spiritual massacre perpetrated by the Chinese communist regime on its territory are the Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority located in the Xinjiang region of northwest China.

Human rights groups claim that the regime holds more than three million Uighurs against their will in an extensive network of what the state calls “re-education camps,” where they are reportedly tortured, enslaved and killed.

Of course, the Uighurs are not the only persecuted spiritual minority in China. There are also Christians, Tibetans and Falun Dafa or Falun Gong practitioners, among others. They also denounce the perverse system of forced organ harvesting by the CCP as they suffer the worst genocide in recent decades.

Precisely the practitioners of the Falun Dafa discipline are the ones who opened the legal path in Argentina to carry out the denunciation that today the Uighurs are presenting in the country. 

Persecution of Falun Dafa and landmark ruling against two CCP leaders in Argentina

Falun Dafa is described as an ancient discipline based on a series of simple exercises and meditation with proven benefits for people’s physical and spiritual health. In addition, its teachings are based on the universal principles of Truth, Benevolence and Tolerance as fundamental pillars for developing the spirituality of those who practice the discipline. 

Its practitioners often mention that they follow the XiuLian way. Xiu (cultivate), consists of personal and spiritual improvement and elevation as the person advances in the incorporation of the teachings. While Lian (refining), refers to the practice of 5 exercises and meditation aimed at the integral improvement of the body.

The CCP, without further argument, in 1999 outlawed the practice of Falun Gong and launched a massive campaign to eradicate the popular faith from the entire country, imprisoning millions of people over the following decades. 

Since then, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have died as a result of torture and abuse by security forces, and the number continues to rise to this day. In addition, Falun Gong practitioners and their families have been subjected to relentless harassment by the state apparatus.

In December 2005, Falun Dafa representatives in Argentina filed a complaint against two former high-ranking Chinese government officials, Luo Gan and Jiang Zemin. The former was the head of the “610 Office,” in charge of repression and persecution against practitioners of the discipline. The latter is the former president of China and leader of the CCP and the main person responsible for ordering the prohibition and persecution of Falun Dafa.

In January 2006 Judge Octavio Aráoz de Lamadrid decided to open the case and begin a thorough investigation that lasted almost four years.

The judge understood the seriousness of the facts denounced and treated them with the celerity and responsibility they deserved. He made a special trip to the United States to hear the testimonies of 17 Chinese witnesses who had fled the persecution and received important evidentiary documentation that he used for his decision. 

On Dec. 17, 2009, after having gathered sufficient evidence, he ordered the international arrest of the accused, which allowed any country in the world to arrest them and send them to Argentina to be questioned and thus continue with the trial. 

The ruling set a historic legal precedent for both Argentina and the world for the possibility of extraterritorially prosecuting foreigners accused of crimes against humanity, applying the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction.

Pressure from the Chinese regime

After issuing the ruling, Judge Aráoz de Lamadrid resigned from his post. Then, in January 2010, during the judicial fair, Judge Canicoba Corral, mysteriously and a few hours after assuming the brief substitution, cancelled the arrest warrant, trying to throw away four years of thorough investigation with a simple signature.

As expected, the Chinese regime would not stand idly by. According to sources close to the case, the Chinese Embassy in Argentina had at that time sent a note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministers of the Court and various national authorities, demanding the “closure of all cases” related to Falun Gong, threatening to damage “bilateral relations.” 

The letter was later introduced into the case file, which led the Argentine Criminal Cassation Chamber in April 2013 to reopen the case, correcting the previous instance.

Currently in the courts of Argentina, the case is still open. Additionally, four other criminal lawsuits associated with the case were added. They include physical aggression, apology of crime and incitement to collective violence against practitioners of the local Falun Gong discipline by authorities of the Chinese Embassy in the country. 

The case of the Uyghurs is of great international importance, so it is expected that the pressure from the CCP to prevent the case from moving forward in Argentina will not be minor. Although, for the time being, lawyers and human rights representatives were optimistic about pursuing the case in the South American country. If successful, the judge could indict the defendants, issue international arrest warrants and send the case to trial.

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