Canada’s Parliament voted on Monday to formally label China’s human rights abuses against the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in the western Xinjiang region as genocide.
All opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) as well as most Liberal MPs voted in favour of the Conservative motion introduced last Thursday. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau was the only member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet present during the vote.
“I abstain on behalf of the Government of Canada,” said Garneau in the House of Commons.
The motion says China’s treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang meets the the definition of genocide set out in the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.
The non-binding motion also calls on the government to lobby the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympic Games out of Beijing.
- Opposition Leader O’Toole says 2022 Olympics should be moved from China
- Canada will ‘review’ U.S. findings of genocide in China’s Xinjiang: Garneau
‘A time for moral clarity’
At a press conference on Monday morning, Conservative Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister 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.”
China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, denounced the motion on Saturday in an interview with the Canadian Press. Cong said allegations of genocide were unfounded and amounted to China-bashing.
“We firmly oppose that because it runs counter to the facts. And it’s like, you know, interfering in our domestic affairs,” Cong told the Canadian Press. “There’s nothing like genocide happening in Xinjiang at all.”
With files from Ryan Patrick Jones of CBC News and The Canadian Press