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Episode 38 – Genocide Gap with Melanie O’Brien and Ewelina Ochab

Janet, Stephanie and Ewelina (bottom left) are introduced to Poppy dog by Mel (top right)

The situation of the Chinese Muslim community, known as the Uighurs (and sometimes spelled Uyghurs), has been causing concern around the world. There are a plethora of reports from activists, journalists and human rights experts that at least one million are being detained in camps in the remote western region of Xinjiang. China denies using torture, forced labour and sterilisations. Do these practices amount to genocide? If so, do states have to declare it? What responses are available? Is it a genocide if no court has yet ruled that it is?

Two genocide experts join us: Dr Melanie O’Brien from the University of western Australia Law School, and second vice president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (We last had Mel on to comment on the genocide case between Gambia and Myanmar at the International court of Justice); and Dr Ewelina Ochab, a human rights advocate, and Co-Founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response

Also we hear from the British lawyers at Essex Court Chambers who recently gave a legal opinion based everything that’s out there from researchers into alleged Uighur genocide.

If you want to understand states’ responses and responsibilities when it comes to genocide, then this is for you.

For reading matter, Melanie who is a descendant of the famous Brontë sisters from Yorkshire, was reading Outsiders by Lyndall Gordon, on various women authors and their struggles with the establishment and Hidden Figures – you may have seen the movie – by Margot Lee Shetterly on the US women who got astronauts into space. Ewelina, though, was reading Red Notice by Bill Browder and offers to pass her copy of the story behind the new anti-corruption sanctions regimes he helped create to anyone who gets in touch.


This podcast has been produced as part of a partnership with JusticeInfo.net, an independent website in French and English covering justice initiatives in countries dealing with serious violence. It is a media outlet of Fondation Hirondelle, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.