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A protester from the Uyghur community living in Turkey holds a placard during a protest in Istanbul on March 25.Emrah Gurel/The Associated Press

Members of Parliament will be asked this week to throw their support behind new measures to address China’s repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities.

Debate starts Wednesday on a motion by Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi calling on Canada to make room in its refugee intake numbers for 10,000 Uyghurs and members of other Turkic groups who have fled China and are living in third countries such as Turkey.

“This motion, to resettle 10,000 Uyghurs, will help to mitigate a genocide that is unfolding now,” Mr. Zuberi, a Montreal-area MP, said.

“Canada has a responsibility to help mitigate genocide and crimes against humanity. Welcoming 10,000 vulnerable Uyghurs is a partial response to this.”

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And on Monday, the Conservative Party will ask the House of Commons to officially endorse a report by the Commons immigration committee published this spring that likewise calls on Ottawa to develop special immigration measures to receive Uyghurs and others fleeing repression in China’s Xinjiang region. The motion will be moved by Conservative international development critic Garnett Genuis.

It’s been 20 months since the House adopted a motion declaring 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 August this year, United Nations high commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, in a report released just before she left office, said the “arbitrary and discriminatory detention” of Uyghurs and other minorities may constitute crimes against humanity.

In May, 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.

Rights groups and media reports say the Chinese government has committed grave human-rights violations against the Xinjiang 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, which Beijing has described as being infected with extremism.

Canada to date, however, has done little to act on the genocide motion.

Despite changing customs law as of mid-2020 to prohibit imports made with forced labour, Ottawa has failed to intercept a single shipment that it could prove was made under coercion.

It’s not the first time Canada has been urged to open its doors for Uyghur refugees.

A Commons subcommittee on human rights, of which Mr. Zuberi was a member, in 2019 published a report that, among other things, called on Canada to create a dedicated refugee stream for Uyghurs and other groups persecuted by China. Such a stream has not been established.

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