TORONTO (AP) – Canada’s House of Commons voted Monday to declare that China is committing genocide against more than a million Uighurs in western Xinjiang, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from the vote. .
The non-binding motion passed 266-0 as virtually everyone except Trudeau and his cabinet voted in favor of the measure that also asked the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing.
A senior government official said that declaring something in Parliament will not yield adequate results in China and that it is necessary to work with international allies and partners. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The main opposition parties supported the motion and control the majority of seats in the House of Commons. Trudeau’s cabinet is made up of 37 liberal lawmakers, including the prime minister. There are 154 lawmakers from Trudeau’s Liberal party in the House of Commons and the rest of the Liberal lawmakers freely voted on the motion.
Liberal Chancellor Marc Garneau abstained like the rest of the Cabinet. It said in a statement that there should be a credible international investigation in response to the genocide allegations.
“We remain deeply concerned about the horrific reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang, including the use of arbitrary detentions, political re-education, forced labor, torture and forced sterilization,” Garneau said.
Opposition Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole said she is asking the government to confirm the statement passed by the House of Commons and to work with allies like the United States to push for an end to the camps and conduct. from China.
“There is real suffering in China. A genocide is taking place, ”O’Toole said. “Our values are not for sale. And Mr. Trudeau needed to send that message today and it failed. “
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before leaving office that China’s policies against Muslims and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang constituted crimes against humanity and genocide. His successor, Antony Blinken, reiterated the statement on his first day in office.
Researchers and rights groups estimate that since 2016, China has cornered a million or more Uighurs and other minorities in prisons and vast indoctrination camps that the state calls training centers.
Pompeo cited widespread forced birth control and forced labor among Uighurs. The Associated Press reported last year that the Chinese government was systematically forcing the sterilization and abortion of Uighur and other Muslim women, sending many to camps simply for having too many children.
The vote is the latest attempt to hold China accountable for its treatment of Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim and ethnic Turkic minorities, who have been subjected to an unprecedented crackdown that raises increasing international concern.
China denies any abuse and insists that the measures it has taken are necessary to combat terrorism and a separatist movement.
China’s envoy to Canada told Canadian MPs over the weekend to stay away from China’s internal affairs.
Trudeau has been hesitant to use the word “genocide”, which he called an “extremely charged” term.
“When it comes to the application of the very specific word genocide, we simply need to make sure that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed before making a determination like that,” Trudeau said last week.
Kalbinur Tursun, a Uighur who fled China, joined opposition conservatives on a virtual call ahead of the vote and said the world did not believe in the horrors of the Holocaust until the concentration camps were exposed for all they would see after World War II.
“The Jews of yesterday are the Uyghurs of today,” Tursun said. Two weeks ago, Tursun said that the Chinese police contacted her with “threatening text messages and phone calls to remind me to stop talking.” He said he was speaking publicly in an appeal to save the lives of his relatives at home.
Canada continues to pressure Beijing to release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, both of whom are detained in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive at Chinese technology company Huawei and daughter of the company’s founder. The United States is seeking Meng’s extradition on fraud charges, and his extradition case is before Canadian courts. His arrest seriously damaged relations between China and Canada. China has also sentenced two other Canadians to death and suspended canola imports.
“It’s a pretty safe bet that the two Michaels are on his mind,” historian Robert Bothwell said of Trudeau.