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432-00462 (Foreign affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:

Whereas, a new report published by the Associated Press has revealed that there has been an ongoing campaign of Uyghur birth suppression by the Chinese Communist Party which includes methods such as forced sterilization and abortion; and,

Whereas, in addition to the recent news of coordinated Uyghur birth suppression, there is also a body of mounting evidence showing that Uyghurs are being subject to political and anti-religious indoctrination, arbitrary detention, separation of children from families, invasive surveillance, destruction of cultural sites, forced labor, and even forced organ harvesting; moreover, it is estimated that up to three million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in what have been described as concentration camps; and,

Whereas, evidence now makes clear that the Chinese Government's treatment of the Uyghurs meets most, if not all, of the criteria for genocide as outlined in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; and,

Whereas, Canada cannot remain silent in the face of this ongoing atrocity.

Therefore we, the undersigned, call on the House of Commons to take the following actions to address the situation:

1. Formally recognize that Uyghurs in China have been and are being subject to genocide.

2. Use the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act ("Magnitsky Act") and sanction those that are responsible for the heinous crimes being committed against the Uyghur people.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canadian foreign policy and is a priority in the Government of Canada’s engagement with China. The nature and scale of the violations by Chinese authorities, under the pretext of countering extremism, are deeply disturbing. The Government is gravely concerned about the existence of a large network of ‘political re-education’ camps where credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained. There are severe restrictions on freedom of religion or belief and the freedoms of movement, association, and expression as well as on Uyghur culture. Widespread surveillance disproportionately continues to target Uyghurs and other minorities and more reports are emerging of forced labour and forced birth control, including sterilization. The actions by the Chinese government are contrary to its own constitution, are in violation of international human rights obligations and are inconsistent with the United Nations’ Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.

These concerns were raised with the Government of China at the highest levels, including at the G20 Foreign Minister’s Meeting in Japan in November 2019, at the Munich Security Conference in February 2020, and in Italy in August 2020, where the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada raised the human rights situation in China directly with his Chinese counterpart during bilateral meetings.  The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada also raised this issue directly with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet in August 2020.

Canada has made several statements on the human rights situation in China at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, including specific statements regarding Uyghurs in Xinjiang (March 2018, September 2018, March 2019; September 2020). Canada also made public recommendations to China on human rights as part of China’s Universal Periodic Review at the HRC in November 2018. Canada called on China to release Uyghurs and other Muslims who have been detained arbitrarily and without due process because of their ethnicity or religions, and to end the prosecution and persecution on the basis of religion or belief, including for Muslims, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong. 

Canada also co-sponsored side events addressing human rights in Xinjiang on the margins of the HRC’s 40th session in Geneva (March 2019) and on the margins of the UN General Assembly 74th session in New York (September 2019). Canada co-signed, along with 22 other countries, a joint statement on the human rights situation in Xinjiang during the Third Committee dialogue of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which took place in New York in October 2019. In June 2020, during the 44th session of the HRC, Canada and 27 other countries signed a joint statement on the human rights situations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. At the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee (October 6, 2020), Canada co-signed, along with 38 other countries, a joint statement on the human rights situation in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. As part of joint communications, Canada and other countries have called on China to allow unfettered access to Xinjiang to the UN and the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights.

The Trade Commissioner Service has updated its guidance for businesses on the risks of doing business in China, including risks related to human rights abuses.  Ensuring companies adhere to responsible business practices is essential to manage social, reputational, legal and economic risks. The Government of Canada expects Canadian companies active abroad, in any market or country, to respect human rights, operate lawfully and conduct their activities in a responsible manner consistent with international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Among other things, the Government of Canada expects Canadian companies to adopt global best practices with respect to supply chain due diligence in order to eliminate the direct or indirect risk of involvement in any forced labour or other human rights abuses.

Canada takes allegations of genocide very seriously. We will continue to work in close collaboration with our allies to push for these to be investigated through an international independent body and for impartial experts to access the region so that they can see the situation firsthand and report back. Regardless of the legal term applied, it is clear that egregious human rights violations and abuses targeting Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities from and in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region continue to be led by the Chinese Communist Party.

When it comes to sanctions, Canada has always been clear that the promotion and protection of human rights are integral parts of our foreign policy. A rigorous due diligence process has been established to consider and evaluate possible cases of human rights violations or corruption anywhere in the world against the criteria set out in the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, within the context of other ongoing efforts to promote human rights and combat corruption. We believe the smart way to impose sanctions is to go with a core group of countries to have the maximum impact, not alone.

Please be assured that the promotion and protection of human rights are core priorities of Canada’s foreign policy. The Government of Canada will continue to raise its concerns regarding the human rights situation in Xinjiang and all of China, and will continue to call on China to live up to its international obligations.

Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
January 29, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00462)
Government response tabled
March 22, 2021
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus
Alberta

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