Before a word has been spoken or a witness heard, China has dismissed the Uyghur Tribunal which gets underway in London on Friday as a farce, an illegal publicity stunt to smear and attack the reputation of Xinjiang, and its people.
It is unusual for the Chinese authorities to react to new events with press conferences, and so for the Xinjiang Authorities to hold not one, but two, before this tribunal gets underway, shows how determined they are to control the narrative.
At least for the domestic audience. Many of whom probably wouldn’t even have known this tribunal was taking place, were it not being so maligned in State newspapers.
In the space of four years, the Government has gone from denying there was anything untoward going on in Xinjiang to, in recent months, producing a constant stream of propaganda about the successful re-education and anti-extremism programme it has been running in the Western province. A programme they describe as an example to the rest of the world.
At the press conference I was invited to attend, we listened to two-and-a-half hours of testimony, or more accurately, character assassinations, of 14 different Uyghur men and women who have fled China after persecution in Xinjiang.
We were told that they, and the ‘’so-called witnesses” we will hear from in London over the next few days, are nothing but actors whose stories are ‘’sheer fiction’’ and ‘’fabricated lies’’.
We were shown video interviews with their relatives, former work colleagues and friends, all denouncing them as immoral and a fraud. These ‘’shameless’’ people, we were told, had ignored their family members, abandoned their country and betrayed their nationality.
It is a rather odd defence but to the accusation of genocide in Xinjiang, the Chinese authorities have reacted by calling out the United States for its crimes against native Americans and Australia for its crimes against Aborigines, the United Kingdom is not so politely reminded about its colonial past.
The West is described as hypocritical and shameless in its slander of China’s reputation.
With the spotlight on its human rights record like never before, China has decided to go on the defensive, and offensive.
And while that might score with its domestic audience, until the country allows the United Nations an independent inspection of the region, it appears unaware that its lack of transparency casts Xinjiang under a dark shadow.
There is mounting evidence that Uyghur culture is being systematically erased and its people unlawfully abused in the process.