Conservatives in Canada’s parliament asked the legislative body on Thursday to formally declare China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority population as genocide.
Canada’s federal Conservatives put a motion up for debate in parliament on February 17 that would declare the Chinese government’s systematic detention of Turkic Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region a genocide, Canada’s the Globe and Mail reported on Thursday.
Members of parliament will vote on the motion on February 22.
The motion calls for the legislature to recognize that “the People’s Republic of China has engaged in actions consistent with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 260, commonly known as the Genocide Convention, including detention camps and measures intended to prevent births as it pertains to Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims,” according to the newspaper.
Any of the following acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” constitute genocide, according to the legal definition used at the International Criminal Court:
Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Survivors of Xinjiang’s camps have testified that they endured forced abortions and sterilization while detained. The population control methods could be considered acts of genocide according to its definition. Many of these allegations were highlighted most recently in a BBC report published on February 3.
Canada’s left-wing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described alleged historic violence against indigenous Canadian women and girls as genocide but refuses to use the same label when describing China’s treatment of ethnic groups native to their particular region, MP Garnett Genuis, the Conservative Party of Canada’s human rights critic, noted on Thursday.
“Ironic, isn’t it, that the prime minister is prepared to accuse his own country of genocide,” Genuis said. “He’s willing to accuse his own country of genocide but unwilling to accuse China of genocide when it’s clearly taking place.”
When asked by reporters on February 15 if he is reluctant to declare China’s actions toward the Uyghurs as genocide, Trudeau said his ruling liberal party’s primary concern is to ensure that the term genocide is not abused.
“It’s a word that is extremely loaded and is certainly something that we should be looking at in the case of the Uyghurs,” Trudeau said at a press briefing on Monday.
“[W]hen it comes to the application of the very specific word ‘genocide,’ we simply need to ensure that all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed in the processes before a determination like that is made,” he said.
Regional Chinese government officials have detained one to three million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in detention camps in Xinjiang since at least 2017, according to multiple human rights organizations.
Rights groups have cited mounting evidence over the past four years to support their accusations, including satellite images appearing to show recently built or expanded detention facilities; eyewitness testimony by survivors of the camps; and leaked Chinese Communist Party (CCP) documents referring to the state-run facilities which the CCP describes as “re-education” or vocational camps. Beijing officially denies the existence of detention camps in Xinjiang.