Canadian Parl committee labels China’s treatment of Uyghurs as ‘genocide’

Millions of Uyghurs are detained in concentration camps in Xinjiang.

New Delhi (NVI): A Canadian parliamentary committee has classified China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region as genocide while outlining several reasons behind its decision including Beijing’s use of mass detentions, forced labour camps, invasive state surveillance and population control methods.

The Uyghurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. They are considered to be one of China’s 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities.

However, China has oppressed the Uyghur minority for years now, besides people in Tibet, as Beijing has almost turned the region into a surveillance state.

“The Subcommittee unequivocally condemns the persecution of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang by the Government of China. Based on the evidence put forward during the Subcommittee hearings, both in 2018 and 2020, the Subcommittee is persuaded that the actions of the Chinese Communist Party constitute genocide as laid out in the Genocide Convention,” read a statement by the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

The Subcommittee has also warned that if the international community doesn’t condemn the persecution of Uyghurs by China, then it will set a wrong precedent.

“If the international community does not condemn the human rights abuses in Xinjiang province by the Government of China, a precedent will be set, and these methods will be adopted by other regimes. Complacency is entrenched by a lack of access to Xinjiang; by the lack of free press; and through the silencing and harassment of Uyghurs living abroad,” the Subcommittee said in its statement.

The decision was made after the Subcommittee convened urgent meetings to understand the latest developments in the plight of the Uyghurs on 20–21 July this year, building on the important testimony of seven witnesses over five sessions before the body in 2018.

“The Subcommittee was profoundly disturbed by what it heard and is convinced of the need for a strong response. 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.

“Witnesses were clear that the Government of China’s actions are a clear attempt to eradicate Uyghur culture and religion. Some witnesses stated that the Government of China’s actions meet the definition of genocide as set out in Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention),” the statement read.

Interestingly, China has recently been elected into UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) despite its treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

Apart from China, Pakistan was also elected into UNHRC despite its abysmal human rights record and gross human rights violations in Gilgit Baltistan and Balochistan regions where it is oppressing minority communities for raising their voices.

Several activist groups have condemned the UN body for electing such authoritarian regimes. Both China and Pakistan were elected to UNHRC during the 75th General Assembly Session at the UN headquarters in New York.