Last week, the Canadian House of Commons, equivalent to the American House of Representatives, voted unanimously 266-0 to declare China’s treatment of their Uyghur population “genocidal.”
While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, leader of the nation’s Liberal Party, and his cabinet members abstained from the vote, both the majority and opposition parties voiced overwhelming support for the non-binding motion. A single member of of Trudeau’s cabinet, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, attending the vote, declaring before the House of Commons he abstained “on behalf of the government of Canada.”
Opposition leader and Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole said the vote sends 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.”
The vote also has potential ramifications for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics set to take place in Beijing. According to the BBC, “lawmakers also voted to pass an amendment asking Canada to call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing ‘if the Chinese government continues this genocide.'”
China has been accused of forcefully detaining over 1 million Muslim Uyghurs across over 85 detention centers. The CCP has long denied their existence until recently when satellite images confirmed their continued existence and expansion. China claims they’re merely “re-education camps” used to combat extremism, and voluntary vocational centers, but Uyghurs who’ve both spent time in the facilities and who know of people who have tell another story. Uyghurs have accused China of using interned people for forced labor, beating, sexually assaulting, and sometimes killing them for their religious beliefs. Chinese officials have also banned the use of religious attire, and forced the Muslim minority to consume alcohol, a practice prohibited by their religion. China has a long history of oppressing their own people, and publicly lying about it.
The Netherlands also joined Canada in passing a motion disavowing China’s genocidal actions, on Friday. “A genocide on the Uyghur minority is occurring in China,” the motion read, making them the first European nation to levy such an accusation.
China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, blasted the move by Canada. “We firmly oppose that because it runs counter to facts. There’s nothing like genocide happening in Xinjiang at all,” he said.
“Facts have proven that there has never been genocide in Xinjiang. This is a pure lie concocted by anti-China forces, a ridiculous farce to smear China. Some Canadian politicians’ blatant politicization of sport violates the spirit of the Olympic Movement and harms the interests of their athletes,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told Chinese state owned media.
Though its passage does not carry any direct action, its passage signifies Canada as only the second nation behind the United States to call-out China’s acts of genocide against its Uyghur minority in the province of Xinjiang. Former President Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the first declaration in mid-January during the administrations final day.