The House of Commons today accused the Chinese government of carrying out a campaign of genocide against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims.
A substantial majority of MPs — including most Liberals who participated — voted in favour of a Conservative motion that says China's actions in its western Xinjiang region meet the definition of genocide set out in the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.
The final tally was 266 in favour and zero opposed. Two MPs formally abstained.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and almost all of his cabinet colleagues were absent for the vote. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau was the only cabinet minister present. When it was his turn, he said he abstained "on behalf of the Government of Canada."
The motion also calls on the government to lobby the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympic Games out of Beijing.
It was passed over the strenuous objections of Chinese Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu, who denounced the vote as meddling in China's internal affairs.
After the vote, Garneau issued a statement saying the federal government remains "deeply disturbed by horrific reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang, including the use of arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilization.
"The government of Canada will continue to work with international partners to defend vulnerable minorities and we once again repeat our call for transparency and a credible international investigation in response to allegations of genocide.
"This investigation must be conducted by an international and independent body so that impartial experts can observe and report on the situation first-hand."
Media reports and academic and UN experts have accused China of imprisoning Uighurs in concentration and "deradicalization" camps and targeting them for forced labour, sexual violence, population control methods and sweeping surveillance. China's foreign ministry has denied the accusations.
The motion calls on the government to officially adopt the position that China is engaged in genocide, and to coordinate a response with the U. S. and other allies.
While it's not clear what impact — if any — the non-binding resolution will have on the Liberal government's approach to China, it threatens to inflame relations between the two countries at a time when they're already tense due to the arrest of Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou by Canadian authorities over two years ago, and China's subsequent imprisonment of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
In a statement posted to the Chinese embassy's website prior to the vote, Cong insisted the reports of Uighur persecution are based on lies.
"A few people in Canada and some other western countries are talking about upholding values, but one important part of the values should be: respect facts and stop spreading disinformation and even lies," Cong said in the statement.
"We urge the Canadian side to take seriously China's solemn position … so as not to cause further damages to China-Canada relations."
At a press conference this morning, Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong said the evidence of China's crimes is overwhelming. He cited survivor testimony, satellite images, video, documents and media reports from major U. S. and international news outlets.
"Today is a time for moral clarity," said Chong. "We can no longer ignore this. We must call it for what it is — a genocide."
Chong and Conservative human rights critic Garnett Genuis were joined at the event by a Uighur woman who fled China and has become an outspoken critic of the Chinese regime.
WATCH | Conservatives call on all MPs to support Uighur genocide motion:
Conservatives call on all MPs to support Uighur genocide motionThe House of Commons will vote on whether to formally declare China's treatment of the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims as a genocide. 1:21
Speaking through a translator, Kalbinur Tursun said she was assigned to teach Chinese at a mass detention facility and a women's prison in the city of Ürümqi from March to November 2017.
She said that during her time in the job, she saw or heard of multiple acts of intimidation, violence and rape directed against Uighur people.
"No one should be subjected to such cruelty," she said.
Tursun said she was forcibly sterilized in 2019 through a surgical procedure, along with hundreds of other Uighur women.
Tursun said some of her re... (Read more)
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