Lawyers representing two groups have filed a complaint asking the court to look into allegations of crimes committed against Uighurs and other ethnic groups, including mass internment camps, forced birth control and sterilisation, massacres, torture and repressive measures against Islam.
Uighurs were unlawfully deported from the two nations into Xinjiang, a Chinese province, where they were persecuted, the submission claims.
The complaint was made on behalf of the East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE) and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM).
“For too long it was assumed that nothing could be done by the world’s criminal court,” Rodney Dixon QC, who is leading the legal team, said. ”There is now a clear legal pathway to justice for the millions of Uighurs who are allegedly being persecuted on mass by the Chinese authorities.”
He added: “It is a breakthrough and momentous opportunity which we urge the ICC Prosecutor to pursue without delay. This chance should not be squandered.”
The ETGE said: “For too long we have been oppressed by China and its Chinese Communist Party and we have suffered so much that the genocide of our people can no longer be ignored.
“We are hopeful that the prosecutor will see that our claim has merit, that she will do the right thing and open an investigation into the crimes.”
The groups have claimed the complaint includes “detailed and shocking evidence” of crimes”.
The East Turkistan Government in Exile said: “The Uighur and the other Turkic peoples of East Turkistan deserve justice for the atrocities that are being committed against them by the Chinese government every day. We are hopeful that justice will prevail.”
China has rounded up and detained more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang in a vast network of indoctrination centres, which officials have called “re-education camps”.
Leaked documents have revealed repressive tactics used against these communities, including systematic brainwashing at camps and detaining people for reasons including growing a beard and fasting.
Additional reporting by Associated Press