Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi is calling on members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet to support a motion that would urge Ottawa to make room in its refugee intake for 10,000 Uyghurs and members of other Turkic groups who have fled China and are living in third countries such as Turkey.
His resolution takes its cue from Parliament’s 2021 declaration that China is committing genocide against the Uyghurs and other minorities, and it calls on the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to expedite entry into Canada of “10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in need of protection over two years starting in 2024.”
Rights groups and media reports say the Chinese government has committed grave human-rights violations against the region’s largely Muslim Uyghur population, as well as other minorities. Forced labour and forced relocation to work in other provinces, China’s critics say, is the latest stage in a government-directed effort to exert control in Xinjiang. Beijing has described the region as being infected with extremism.
Michelle Bachelet, until recently the UN high commissioner for human rights, visited Xinjiang this year, and her office’s report from last August says China has committed “serious human rights violations” against Uyghur Muslims in the region, which may amount to crimes against humanity.
A vote on Motion M-62 is set for Wednesday in the House of Commons and Mr. Zuberi is urging cabinet ministers to support it.
“It’s important that cabinet vote in favour of the motion to resettle the Uyghur,” the MP said.
“What matters is that the former UN Human Rights High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, determined that what is happening to the Uyghur may constitute crimes against humanity. Once there is the possibility of crimes against humanity, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine is engaged. This means that countries like Canada, which promote the rules based order, have to do their utmost to address the human rights concerns”
It’s been nearly two years since Canada’s House of Commons adopted a motion declaring that China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities constitutes a genocide. The U.S. government and legislative bodies in the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Ireland have made similar determinations.
In May 2022, the Associated Press reported that nearly one in 25 people in a county in Xinjiang has been sentenced to prison on terrorism-related charges, in what is the highest known imprisonment rate in the world.
The list of those sentenced is by far the biggest to emerge to date with the names of imprisoned Uyghurs, reflecting the sheer size of a Chinese government campaign that swept an estimated one million or more people into internment camps and prisons.
Mehmet Tohti, a Uyghur-Canadian and executive director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, said there are tens of thousands of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities who have fled China for countries in the Middle East and Turkey, but are at risk of being sent back. Beijing, seeking to silence critics in these diasporas, is pressing countries to deport them to China as part of a transnational campaign.
“For the Chinese government, controlling these populations is vital to protect its image and the diaspora groups are the ones who are most actively exposing Beijing’s violation of human rights,” he said.
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