China is committing acts of genocide against Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims in the autonomous region of XinJiang, a House of Commons subcommittee on international human rights has declared.
On Wednesday, members of the non-partisan subcommittee issued a statement that said, after studying the matter since 2018, they were “persuaded that the actions of the Chinese Communist Party constitute genocide as laid out in the Genocide Convention.”
The Subcommittee heard that the Government of China has been employing various strategies to persecute Muslim groups living in Xinjiang, including mass detentions, forced labour, pervasive state surveillance and population control, according to a statement
Witnesses who spoke to members “were clear that the Government of China’s actions are a clear attempt to eradicate Uyghur culture and religion.”
One of those witnesses is described as a “survivor” of “concentration camps” in the region, who “raised the troubling prospect that the Government of China is collecting DNA information from detainees, without their consent, to determine the compatibility of their organs for later harvesting.”
The Uyghurs (also spelled Uighur) are a Muslim, ethnically Turkic people whose ancestral homeland is in the western Chinese province known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
That region, in northwest China, according to experts, is a resource-rich area with important oil deposits. “It also borders several Central Asian countries that the Government of China considers strategically important for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its pursuit of expansionism.”
The report from the subcommittee comes as B.C. heads to the polls to elect a new government that presently has an active memorandum of understanding on the BRI that was signed by Premier Christy Clark and International Trade Minister Teresa Wat in 2016 with Guangdong province.
The BC NDP and BC Liberals nevertheless have deferred any questions on human rights in China to the federal government.
The BRI MOU is very rare in Western jurisdictions. In Australia, the state of Victoria signed one but was strongly condemned by the federal government for doing so.
Yet while the B.C. government supports the BRI, the subcommittee stated it was important for the federal government to “provide support through international overseas development assistance to civil society organizations especially in countries that are geopolitically important to China's Belt and Road Initiative who are raising awareness about the persecution of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.”
The subcommittee quoted Nobel Peace laureate, Elie Wiesel: “Silence in the face of evil ends up being complicity with evil itself.”
The subcommittee is made up of Liberal MPs Peter Fonseca, Iqra Khalid, Anita Vandenbeld and Sameer Zuberi; Conservative MPs Kenny Chiu and Scott Reid; Bloc MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe; and NDP MP Heather McPherson. They heard of several specific concerns about human rights violations:
In Xinjiang camps, there is forced labour that, according to witnesses, “is integrated into the supply chains of many large international corporations and contributes to the production of many products sold in Canada and other Western nations.”
It was recommended by witnesses that “adequate import control mechanisms are essential to ensuring that products made with forced labour do not enter the Canadian market.”
As such the subcommittee recommends the Government of Canada should conduct a review of its procurement practices to ensure it is not purchasing products manufactured through forced labour.
Pervasive state surveillance
Evidence that Xinjiang has become a de facto police state aimed at controlling the movement of Muslims was heard.
“The subcommittee was informed that these measures have had an intense chilling effect on Uyghur cultural and religious practices,” noted the statement.
This surveillance has reached Canada, the members heard.
“Witnesses warned that the Government of China also uses surveillance technologies extra-territorially to monitor the activities of its critics living abroad. Vocal Uyghur activists have been harassed and intimidated by the Government of China – even those living in Canada.”
As such the Government of Canada “should use existing refugee programs and create an exceptional refugee stream, to expedite refugee applications of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims fleeing persecution in Xinjiang and elsewhere, especially human rights defenders.”
Means of population control have also occurred, such as forced and coerced sterilizations and abortions and surgically implanted imposed IUDs (contraceptives).
“To this end, many of the expert witnesses that appeared before the subcommittee were adamant that the atrocities committed by the Government of China amount to genocide as well as crimes against humanity,” stated the subcommittee Wednesday
The subcommittee recommended that the Government of Canada:
- condemn the Government of China’s actions against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang;
- work with allies and multilateral organizations to help international observers gain unfettered access to Xinjiang;
- provide support through international overseas development assistance to civil society organizations especially in countries that are geopolitically important to China's Belt and Road Initiative who are raising awareness about the persecution of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang;
- recognize that the acts being committed in Xinjiang against Uyghurs constitute genocide and work within legal frameworks of international bodies to recognize that acts being committed against Uyghurs constitute genocide; and
- impose sanctions under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act on all Government of China officials responsible for the perpetration of grave human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.