Georgia L. Gilholy is a Young Voices UK contributor and a volunteer for the Foundation for Uyghur Freedom.

Tomorrow Sir Geoffrey Nice QC will deliver the Uyghur Tribunal’s judgment on the question of ongoing atrocities and possible genocide in China’s Northwest province of Xinjiang, after months of investigation.

While the determination of the tribunal, which consists of an independent body of experts, lawyers and activists, will not legally bind the British or any other state to take action, or even acknowledge their conclusion, it is vital that this extensive series of hearings and reports spur the UK government to finally acknowledge the process of genocide that is evidently underway in Xinjiang, and push for action against the regime accordingly.

Tomorrow’s determination follows last week’s leak of a major cache of documents to the tribunal that further cement the growing body of evidence suggesting the Chinese government’s mission to culturally and demographically eliminate the Uyghur Muslim minority.

These damning new transcriptions of leaked Chinese state documents are thought to date to around 2014, the same year as a terrorist attack alleged to have been carried out in Beijing by Uyghur separatists.

Adrian Zenz, one of the academics who verified the documents, said the new files’ material demonstrates how “the personal influence of Xi on many details of this atrocity is significantly greater than we realized.”

These new documents lay out the party’s official contempt for what they deem “religious interference” in matters of “secular life,” in other words, their justification for placing brutal restrictions on the perfectly legitimate and public role of faith in the life of the Uyghur community. These complaints have been followed by officials categorising the growing of an “abnormal” beard, wearing a veil or headscarf, prayer, fasting or not drinking alcohol as “signs of extremism” in many cases.

In one previously confidential speech, Xi claimed that “population proportion and population security are important foundations for long-term peace and stability,” a phrase that was repeated verbatim in 2021 by a senior Xinjiang official complaining that the Han Chinese population of southern Xinjiang was “too low” at 15%- alluding to the CCP’s forthwith acceleration of targeted migration, family separation and forced marriage in its quest to eliminate the areas’ unique culture.

Since 2017, at least a million Uyghurs and members of other Turkic Muslim minorities have been transferred into a leviathan of ‘transformation through education’ camps in the region. Detainees are subjected to political indoctrination, forced labour, coerced into renouncing their religion and culture and, are in many instances subjected to torture, rape, and organ harvesting. Women in and outside the camps are regularly the victims of forced sterilisation and abortion.

As Newcastle University expert Joanne Smith Finley, who was sanctioned by the regime earlier this year, told the Associated Press in 2020, “It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but slow, painful, creeping genocide…These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uyghur population.”

In November Beijing announced more restrictive rules, set to be rolled out in the province from January 1 2022, under which every community will be divided into ‘grid’ units to be monitored by officials 24/7. Notably, these guidelines were mandated from the very top echelons of the Party, including President Xi himself.

The new rules also call for tighter control of the already tightly restricted media reports out of the province, and further limitations on Internet use. Severe punishment of officers not judged to deliver the expected level of enforcement on locals is also mandated.

For all the new foreign secretary and indeed her predecessor’s talk of an alliance between “freedom-loving” nations, and the importance of combatting China, the British government is yet to even acknowledge that genocide is being executed in Xinjiang, claiming that it is the sole job of “competent national and international courts” to determine genocide, and not MPs or ministers.

Yet in March they blocked plans to allow national courts to examine the matter by rejecting the genocide amendment to the Trade Bill. The amendment would have permitted the UK High Court to issue a preliminary ruling on whether a genocide was occurring. MPs would then be permitted to decide on any related policies.

The idea of an international court investigating the matter at all – nevermind transparently – is a fantasy. Beijing would never be brought to the International Court of Justice as it has never accepted its jurisdiction. Nor is there any possibility of an International Criminal Court investigation at the UN Security Council, given that the People’s Republic is a permanent member with the ability to veto any proposals it dislikes.

In May, the British Parliament became the third legislature in the world to adopt a resolution labelling China’s repression in Xinjiang a genocide, after Canada and the Netherlands. While the motion passed unopposed the government abstained, and last month the government reaffirmed that it will not “make determinations in relation to genocide” in response to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee’s recommendation that it do so.

It is clear that a comprehensive international strategy is required to hold Beijing to account, as it is that this strategy is a long way from being decided or enacted. Moreover, of course any acknowledgment of genocide must be followed up concrete action such as cracking down on imports that can be traced to Xinjiang and other areas where forced labour is at play in China, and sanctioning complicit officials.

Yet the first step toward solving a problem is accepting the fact that there is one in the first place, and it is scandalous that the British government has not taken even this minor step.

There is surely a dehumanisation inherent in our culture of piety towards remembering past genocides and atrocities, encapsulated by the oft-repeated phrase “Never Again”, while we continue to avoid any action or acknowledgement of ongoing crises.

We cannot let our decision to acknowledge or take action on genocide remain dependent on toothless international institutions.

When tomorrow’s determination is delivered, the British government ought to be listening very carefully.