This week, Canada officially voted to declare the human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslims in China as a genocide. The motion passed overwhelmingly, with a vote in the House of Commons receiving a vote of 266-0 in favor, and with support from all opposition parties. Lawmakers also filed a motion asking the International Olympic Committee to refuse to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in China if the genocide is still being perpetrated. Yet one notable person did not support the motions: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole said a strong statement must be made when it comes to the Uighur genocide. “On a matter like genocide, Canada needs to send 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,” O’Toole said. “Our values are not for sale.” A coalition of different political parties in Canada — The Conservatives, New Democrats, Bloc Québécois, and Greens — have all called for sanctions to be placed against China as well.
Yet Trudeau was less enthusiastic about using the word genocide. “When it comes to the application of the very specific word genocide, we simply need to ensure that all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed before a determination like that is made,” Trudeau said, according to the Associated Press, which also noted that Trudeau called genocide a “loaded term.”
Trudeau and the senior members of his cabinet did not attend the vote earlier this week. His lack of decisive action condemning the Uighur genocide is reminiscent of President Biden’s earlier statements on the subject, in which he made reference to China’s “different cultural norms.”
Unsurprisingly, Chinese officials continue to deny that Uighurs are being mistreated. “We firmly oppose that because it runs counter to the facts. And it’s like, you know, interfering in our domestic affairs,” Cong Peiwu, China’s ambassador to Canada, told The Hill. “There’s nothing like genocide happening in Xinjiang at all.”
Despite the insistence from Trudeau and Chinese officials that no genocide is taking place, multiple investigations from outlets like Haaretz, Buzzfeed News, and the BBC have found otherwise. An estimated one million Uighurs are being held in concentration camps, where survivors have told horrific tales of sadistic sexual violence, forced labor, torture, vivisection without anesthesia, forcible abortions and sterilization, and murder.
Despite the fact that the information about this genocide has become more and more readily apparent, world leaders like Biden and Trudeau continue to remain silent, refusing to speak against the genocide or take action to free the innocent people being tortured and killed in China.
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