PRESS RELEASE: Canadian Parliamentary Committee Labels Uyghur Crisis a “Genocide”
In an important development, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the Subcommittee) in the Canadian Parliament has designated atrocities by the Chinese government against the Uyghur people in East Turkistan to be a genocide in line with the UN Genocide Convention.
The Subcommittee came to this important conclusion after holding a hearing, considering relevant reports and hearing the testimony of witnesses to the crisis. The strong conclusions from the Subcommittee called for a number of concrete action to address the genocide, including levying targeted sanctions on culpable Chinese government officials, provide support for the Canadian Uyghur community and Uyghur refugees and to work within international forums and institutions to push for the recognition of the crisis as a genocide. The conclusions also address the issue of Uyghur forced labour, calling for a number of concrete actions to ensure the supply chains of Canadian companies are not complicit.
This is an important step to acknowledge the severity and urgency of the Uyghur crisis. While US Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden have publicly discussed whether the crisis constitutes a genocide, the Canadian Subcommittee is the first government body to publicly acknowledge that the crisis in East Turkistan fits the criteria for genocide. Language is important and helps to structure the thinking and response of leaders and policy makers. The genocide designation carries with it a moral responsibility under the UN Genocide Convention to take urgent and concrete measures to end the Uyghur genocide.
“We thank the Canadian Subcommittee recognizing that the atrocities against Uyghurs constitute genocide and for proposing concrete and meaningful action for Canada to take to address this crisis,” said WUC President Dolkun Isa. “We urge R.Hon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian government to adopt and implement the conclusions of the committee and to demonstrate that Canada will not sit idly by while a genocide takes place.”
The decision to recongize these atrocities as a genocide further reinforced the urgency of this situation. The continued existence of the Uyghur people is under threat as Uyghur identity is being eroded, the younger generation is being brainwashed, Uyghur women are being sterilized to reduce the population and Uyghur history is being rewritten. If Canada and the international community do not act, the Uyghurs as an ethnically distinct people, could disappear entirely.
In the past 3 years, 1-3 million Uyghurs have been detained in camps, Uyghur women have been sterilized in an attempt to diminish the Uyghur population, Uyghurs have been subjected to forced labour and modern slavery, Uyghur language has been banned in many schools and prefectures, every the most basic expressions of religious sentiment have been criminalized, Uyghur mosques, shrines, graveyards and homes have been destroyed, children have been taken away from their families and the CCP has sought to eradicate the Uyghur identity and forcibly assimilate the Uyghur people. The number of atrocities the Uyghur people have been forced to endure is heartbreaking and fits the definition of genocide under the UN Genocide Convention.
At an international level, attempts to raise the issue of terminology and the question on whether the Uyghur crisis constitutes a genocide have been stifled by CCP influence and failure to comply with international mechanisms. As China is not a member of the International Criminal Court, the most appopriate body to rule on genocide designation, it has been impossible to raise this issue. It has been similarly impossible to raise this important question within the International Court of Justice or within UN mechanisms. To address this, an independent People’s Tribunal, called the Uyghur Tribunal, has been set up in London to collect all available evidence and to deliver an credible and definitive legal answer to whether atrocities against Uyghurs constitutes genocide. The actions taken by the Subcommittee has played an important role in the international recognition of the Uyghur genocide.
However, the conclusions offered by the Subcommittee will not have the desired impact unless they are adopted and implemented by the rest of the Canadian government. We urge the Canadian government, especially Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian foreign ministry to adopt this terminology and work with other states to meaningfully and substantively address the Uyghur genocide. We urge Canada to work with its allies and partners to push for recognition of the Uyghur genocide in international fora and to push for a robust and meaningful approach to end the Uyghur genocide.