The big business of Uyghur genocide denial

By | January 18, 2022

New Lines magazine reports:

Around the time that [Vijay] Prashad denied the Uyghur genocide in the article for Globetrotter, he also appeared on a YouTube channel called The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow, casting doubt on the plight of the Uyghurs, which human rights monitors had by that time labeled a genocide. “What’s the evidence?” he asked rhetorically. “Well, there’s none, really.”

There is plenty, according to Amnesty International.

“Amnesty has documented how Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang face systematic state-organized mass imprisonment, torture and persecution amounting to crimes against humanity,” Amnesty International U.K. campaigns manager Kristyan Benedict told New Lines.

Media reporting has corroborated Amnesty’s findings.

In November 2019, The New York Times published a major exposé based on 403 pages of leaked internal Chinese state documents, which, as the paper noted, “provide an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, in which the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic [Uyghurs], Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.” And in 2020, BuzzFeed News won a Pulitzer Prize for its four-part investigation into the infrastructure of this internment program in Xinjiang based on satellite footage and interviews with former detainees.

That Prashad’s denial of atrocities against the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities should coincide with mounting evidence that implicates the Chinese government is particularly noteworthy because, until recently, his organization was on record lending credence to the fact that these abuses existed.

Early into its existence, in 2018, Prashad’s Tricontinental highlighted key “problems” with Beijing, which it characterized as “very grave,” namely, “the detention of unknown numbers of China’s Uyghur minority — and the arrests of Marxist students.” By Prashad’s current standards, his own newsletter from this time would be guilty of “information warfare” in tandem with the U.S. military-industrial complex.

So why the remarkable about-face?

The answer may lie in Prashad’s closeness to [the 67-year-old American tech magnate Neville Roy] Singham, whom, as recently as Nov. 24, 2021, he described on Twitter as “[o]ne of my oldest [and] dearest friends.”

In 2017 Prashad abandoned academia in favor of a Chinese think tank, and he inaugurated Tricontinental, which is also bankrolled in part by the United Community Fund.

In an email, Prashad told New Lines that he quit Trinity College in 2017 “because it was clear that neither the [administration] wanted me nor did I really want to spend the rest of my life there. When the opportunity afforded to do new things, for which I am grateful, I took it.”

Prashad declined to address New Lines’ questions about the sources of funding to Tricontinental, and he did not comment on Singham’s alleged financial involvement in his organization.

The majority of Tricontinental’s donor money remains unknown because funds are disbursed as pass-through donations by a major Wall Street investment bank. According to tax filings, Tricontinental received $12.45 million from Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund, a donor-advised charity that conceals its funders from the public record, making it a convenient clearinghouse for moving dark money to politically sensitive or controversial organizations. [Continue reading…]

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