Canadian Parliament Formally Recognizes Chinese Government’s Persecution of Uyghurs as Genocide

On Monday, February 22, 2021, the Canadian parliament’s House of Commons passed a non-binding motion to formally designate the Chinese government’s persecution and treatment of the Uyghur population as genocide. The landmark decision, spearheaded by the Conservative Party, passed through the House on a vote of 266-0. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been relatively unwilling to use the “extremely loaded” term ‘genocide’ which would not only displease the Chinese Communist Party, but would also force Canada to take whatever actions necessary to hold the CCP accountable for its atrocities.

Prior to the vote, members of the Conservative Party released the following statement:

“Today, Canada’s conservatives are calling on the parliament of Canada to recognize that genocide is currently being carried out by the People’s Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. We are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to officially adopt this position; we are calling for an end to silence.”

“The Genocide Convention defines genocide very clearly with a list of acts committed with the intent to destroy an ethnic or religious group. We know that China is committing these four elements of genocide: forcibly transferring children, posing measures intended to prevent births, deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated for its physical destruction, causing serious bodily harm.”

“Canada needs to send a clear and unequivocal signal that we will stand up for human rights and the dignity of human rights, even if it means sacrificing some economic opportunity. Our values are not for sale. Literally the whole House supports what we’re doing here, and no one understands why Mr. Trudeau is so uncomfortable calling out such horrific conduct….”

Dr. Adrian Zenz, an expert researcher on the situation of minorities in China, reveals that he believes Canada’s determination of genocide would inevitably ignite diplomatic contention between China and Canada.

The Canadian parliament’s genocide determination has been welcomed by Uyghur diaspora communities across the world:

“Today is another historic day for East Turkistan and its people. The Canadian Parliaments’ recognition of genocide with a vote of 266-0 has given us great hope that Canada will not stand idle to this ongoing genocide. ‘We thank all members of Canada’s Parliament, especially MPs Garnett Genuis and Erin O’Toole, for their unwavering efforts and help.”East Turkistan Government in Exile

“The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) applauds the vote by the Canadian House of Commons to recognize that the Chinese government is carrying out a genocide against Uyghurs, and calls on the UN and other governments to take action without delay. ‘China’s atrocity crimes demand a worldwide response. Uyghurs thank Canada for this historic vote. We are now in the 5th year of unimaginable hell.'”UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat

“The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) applauds the newly adopted Opposition Motion bill in the House of Commons of Canada, acknowledging China’s crackdown on Uyghurs and other Turkic people, as genocide. ‘It is disappointing that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet called for an abstention on the motion. The evidence of genocide is overwhelming. The international community can no longer simply condemn this genocide. it is high time to take action. The Canadian government must lead the way with like-minded countries in a coordinated effort.'”WUC President Dolkun Isa

At the same time, the Canadian House of Common’s genocide determination faced rebuke by Chinese government spokespersons, who dismiss reports of genocide as fake news:

“We firmly oppose it [genocide determination] because it runs counter to the facts. And it’s like, you know, interfering in our domestic affairs. There’s nothing like genocide happening in Xinjiang at all.” – Ambassador of China to Canada Cong Peiwu

“These basic facts show that there has never been so-called genocide. They [Canada] have been engaged in political manipulation on Xinjiang-related issues under the pretext of human rights.” – Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin

The Canadian Parliament’s genocide determination comes one month after former United States Secretary of State Mike Pomeo similarly formally recognized China’s persecution of Uyghurs as both genocide and crimes against humanity.

Cover image by Sergio Tittarini on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)