Canada weighs calling China’s treatment of Uygurs a genocide
- PM Justin Trudeau says there is ‘no question’ that there have been significant human rights abuses reported coming out of Xinjiang
- The Trump administration made a genocide determination last month, and Biden’s top diplomat has said he agrees with the label, vowing to stay tough on China
Canada and other nations are considering labelling China’s treatment of its Uygur minority a genocide, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.
This comes after Donald Trump’s outgoing administration last month said Beijing’s incarceration of mostly Muslim minorities in its far western Xinjiang region amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity.
“It’s a word that is extremely loaded and is certainly something that we should be looking at in the case of the Uygurs,” Trudeau told a news conference.
“I know the international community is looking very carefully at that and we are certainly among them, and we will not hesitate from being part of the determinations around these sorts of things.”
US declares China has committed genocide in its treatment of Uygurs in Xinjiang
He said there was “no question” there had been significant human rights abuses reported coming out of Xinjiang.
“We are extremely concerned about that and have highlighted our concerns many times. But 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 the T’s are crossed in the processes before a determination like that is made,” Trudeau added.
Rights groups say at least 1 million Uygurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims have been incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang.
Independent access to the sensitive area is highly restricted, making reporting and verification of the allegations near impossible.
But witnesses and activists say China is seeking to forcibly integrate the Uygurs into the majority Han culture by eradicating Islamic customs, including by forcing Muslims to eat pork and drink alcohol – both forbidden by their faith – while imposing a regime of effective forced labour.
In January, then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “We are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uygurs by the Chinese party-state.”
Trudeau rejects releasing Meng Wanzhou to free detained Canadians in China
His successor, Antony Blinken, has said he agreed with the label, and vowed to stay tough on China.
China has denied wrongdoing and contends that its camps are vocational training centres meant to reduce the allure of Islamic extremism in the wake of attacks.
Canada-China relations soured in late 2018 over the arrest of Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou, and China’s detention of two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – in what Ottawa has called retaliation.