Canada’s House of Commons voted unanimously to affirm that China’s actions toward it’s ethnic minority of Uyghurs is genocide. Justin Trudeau and liberal members of his cabinet did not attend the vote on Monday. By declaring China’s “reeducation” camps as part of an ongoing campaign of genocide, Canada joins the United States as the second nation to stand up to China’s violations of human rights.
The motion, which has support from the majority conservative party and a few liberal lawmakers, passed 266-0. Parliament’s move puts pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority liberal governing party to do the same.
The Uyghur turkic minority represent only 0.31% of China’s total population. They are more akin to people of Central Asia than with the communist state’s dominant ethnically Han population. DNA analysis indicates the Uyghurs have an ethnic mix of Caucasian and East Asian ancestry.
Uyghurs have their own culture and a unique Turkic language. They are Muslim by tradition, originating from hill tribes of the Altai Mountains in Central and East Asia.
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) February 23, 2021
In a special report, Founder and Executive Director of Campaign for Uyghurs, Rushan Abbas, wrote in-part, “…more than three million Uyghurs are detained in concentration camps because of their ethnic identity. Millions more are literal slaves in factories across China…”
The Canadian Parliament’s move will likely bring several new political confrontations for the prime minister, who in recent years, attempted to strike a balance between pushing back
against China’s hostile actions and promoting amicable relations with Beijing.
The liberal party of Trudeau previously objected to the motion for a vote. He told reporters that genocide is an “extremely loaded” term and requires more investigation of the issue before taking a vote.
By his reluctance to use the word ‘genocide,’ Justin Trudeau suggeststhe best approach regarding China’s violation of human rights is for all Western allies to reach an agreement.
“Moving forward multilaterally will be the best way to demonstrate the solidarity of Western democracies ... that are extremely concerned and dismayed by reports of what’s going on in Xinjiang,” Trudeau said after speaking with G7 leaders.
China reacted, according to a Reuters report, by condemning Canada’s motion. China quoted Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesman, stating China lodged “stern representations” with Canada.
The Chinese ambassador to Ottawa, Cong Peiwu, refuted the accusations of genocide. “Western countries are in no position to say what the human rights situation in China looks like,” he stated in a pre-vote interview. “There is no so-called genocide in Xinjiang at all.”
Cong Peiwu criticized the vote, telling the Canadian Press that Ottawa officials should stop meddling in China’s affairs. “We firmly oppose that because it runs counter to the facts. And it’s like, you know, interfering in our domestic affairs,” Peiwu advised. “There’s nothing like genocide happening in Xinjiang at all.”
More than one million Uighurs are detained within the “re-training camps” of Xinjiang province, where they are reportedly subjected to systematic sterilization, rape, and sexual violence. China denies the accusations, insisting the Uyghurs benefit from the "vocational and educational training center facilities," as China tries to stamp out Islamic extremism.