London [UK], June 4 (ANI): A panel of Britain-based lawyers and rights experts examining human rights violations and reports of genocide in China's Xinjiang region began hearing in London on Thursday.
The "Uyghur Tribunal" will hear first-hand testimony of alleged crimes in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, including forced sterilisation, torture, disappearances and slave labour.
The hearings were requested by the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, the US-funded Uyghur lobby group that wants greater autonomy for Xinjiang, to "investigate ongoing atrocities and possible genocide" in the far-west China region, South China Morning Post reported.
Though the independent inquiry has no enforcement powers, organisers hope to hold China accountable for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.
China said the planned hearings were "neither legal nor credible".
"It is just another anti-China farce concocted by a few individuals," China foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Thursday.
The tribunal will be convened by prominent human rights lawyer Geoffrey Nice, who was the deputy prosecutor at the war crimes trial of former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
The eight-panel members also include Nick Vetch, the multimillionaire founder of the UK storage company Big Yellow Group, and the renowned doctor Dame Parveen Kumar.
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
Beijing, on the other hand, has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on the ethnic community.
Early this year, the United States become the first country in the world to declare the Chinese actions in Xinjiang as "genocide". In February, both the Canadian and Dutch parliaments adopted motions recognising the Uyghur crisis as genocide. The latter became the first parliament in Europe to do so.
In April, the United Kingdom also declared China's ongoing crackdown in Xinjiang as a "genocide".
The Chinese government has increased its "groundless prosecutions" with long prison sentences for Uyghurs and other minority communities in recent years in China's Xinjiang province, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
HRW, a non-governmental body that conducts research and advocacy on human rights last week had said since the Chinese government escalated its repressive "Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism" in late 2016, the region's formal criminal justice system has convicted and sentenced more than 250,000 people. (ANI)