The Canadian lower house decided on Monday to label China’s treatment of the Uyghurs as genocide. After the United States, Canada is the second country to recognize the situation as genocide.
The entire opposition in the Canadian lower house voted in favor of the motion on Monday. Several coalition members also supported the motion. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet members abstained.
According to opposition leader Erin O’Toole, the passed motion sends a clear signal to China that Canada respects human rights, even if it means there may be economic consequences.
Although these are non-binding motions, pressure is mounting on Trudeau’s progressive liberal government to take action against China. The relationship between China and Canada has cooled considerably in recent years and this motion could further worsen the situation.
Trudeau has always been reluctant to make statements about the Uyghurs in China’s Sinkiang province. According to him, the term genocide is “very serious” and more research is needed first.
The Chinese ambassador to Canada already emphasized to Canadian media this weekend that the government should not interfere with Chinese “internal affairs”. He, like his government, denied that there was any genocide against the Uyghurs.
Human rights organizations claim, however, that millions of Uyghurs are locked up in concentration camps in Sinkiang, which Beijing calls re-education camps itself. The Islamic minority in the northwestern province has been systematically persecuted for years since a few terrorist attacks in China.
Of BBC reported earlier this month that women of the Uyghur minority in the camps are regularly raped and tortured. At the end of last year, the Chinese telecom company Huawei leaked software tested that informed authorities through an ‘Uyghur alert’ if anyone from the oppressed minority was recognized on cameras.
Relationship between China and Canada already bad
Things have not been going smoothly between China and Canada for a long time due to various incidents. The situation escalated when Huawei’s financial director Meng Wanzhou was arrested at the Vancouver airport in 2018 at the request of the US authorities. She’s still stuck. China shortly afterwards arrested two Canadian citizens, who, according to Ottawa, are being used as political prisoners.
In addition, both countries are involved in conflicts at the WTO trade organization and Canada – to Beijing’s dismay – has condemned Chinese intervention in Hong Kong.