China committed genocide in the Xinjiang region by preventing births in the Uyghur population, a London panel probing alleged human rights abuses concluded on Thursday.
Nine lawyers and human rights experts published their opinion after hearing allegations of torture, rape and inhumane treatment at two evidence sessions this year.
The tribunal was set up at the request of the World Uyghur Congress, the largest group representing exiled Uyghurs, which lobbies the international community to act against China over the alleged abuses.
Beijing dismissed its findings, and said the congress "paid for liars, bought rumours and gave false testimony in an attempt to concoct a political tool to smear China."
"This so-called tribunal has neither any legal qualifications or any credibility," the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said, calling the hearings "a political farce."
In a 63-page report, the panel said there was no evidence of mass killing, which has been the traditional test of genocide under international law.
But it said it was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) "intended to destroy a significant part" of the Muslim Uyghur minority in the country's northwest and as such "has committed genocide."
The CCP put in place "a comprehensive system of measures to 'optimise' the population in Xinjiang" to reduce the Uyghur birth rate, including forced sterilisation, birth control and abortion.
"The population of Uyghurs in future generations will be smaller than it would have been without these policies. This will result in a partial destruction of the Uyghurs," it added.
"In accordance with the Genocide Convention's use of the word 'destroy' this satisfies a prohibited act required for the proof of genocide."
China has slapped sanctions on the panel chair Geoffrey Nice, who prosecuted the former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes at the United Nations tribunal in The Hague.
He and the other members acknowledged that testimony came from people opposed to the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the CCP. But they also examined thousands of pages of documentary evidence from independent researchers and human rights organisations.
The panel concluded that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, and possibly more than one million, had been detained without cause, and treated cruelly and inhumanely.
It said it was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that torture had occurred "by or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of, public officials or other persons acting in official capacities of the PRC and/or CCP."
It upheld claims of imprisonment, forced transfer, enforced disappearances, rape and sexual violence, persecution and inhumane acts to the same standard of proof.
"The tribunal is satisfied that a comprehensive plan for the enactment of multiple but interlinked policies targeting the Uyghurs had been formulated by the PRC," it added, saying President Xi Jinping and other senior officials "bear primary responsibility."
Impact on diplomacy
The plight of the Uyghurs has contributed to worsening diplomatic relations between Western powers and Beijing, which denies any abuses.
The United States has called China's treatment of the Uyghurs genocide, and is mounting a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing with several other Western nations.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said Britain would join the boycott, in a move likely to fray ties further after London's repeated criticism of what it sees as creeping Chinese authoritarianism in Hong Kong.
But the British government has resisted calls for it to declare China's treatment of the Uyghurs as genocide, insisting it should be a matter for a court to decide.
The Uyghur Tribunal has no powers of sanction or enforcement and says it is for states and other bodies to consider its conclusions and decide whether to act on them.
by Phil Hazlewood, AFP