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432-00833 (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 human rights violations by Chinese authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), under the pretext of countering extremism, are deeply disturbing. Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities face torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, obligatory patriotic and cultural education, as well as forced labour. Reports detail closures and destruction of Uyghur religious sites, including mosques and shrines important to that community’s religious, ethnic, and cultural identity. There are also reports of mass arbitrary forced separation of children from their parents by authorities. There are credible reports of forced sterilization, systematic rape and gender-based sexual violence. Throughout the region, Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities also face repressive physical and digital surveillance, which includes severe restrictions on movement, the forced collection of biometric data, and coercive police surveillance. The actions by the Chinese government are in violation of international human rights obligations and are inconsistent with the United Nations’ Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.

Canada has acted to address the repression, which is systematic, state-led and ongoing.  Concerns over the human rights situation in the XUAR 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.

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 the XUAR (March 2018, September 2018, March 2019; September 2020; February 2021). 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). 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. 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. 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.

On January 12, the Government of Canada announced that it is adopting a comprehensive approach to addressing human rights abuses in the XUAR. This included measures to address forced labour, via the prohibition of imports into Canada of goods made in whole or part with forced labour and a business integrity declaration for Canadian exporters. Global Affairs Canada will continue to work closely with Canadian firms doing business in or with China to help them understand and mitigate the risks of doing business with entities possibly implicated in forced labour.

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.

On March 22, 2021, Canada announced sanctions against 4 officials and 1 entity under the Special Economic Measures (People’s Republic of China) Regulations, based on their participation in gross and systematic human rights violations in the XUAR. The Regulations impose a dealings ban on listed persons, which prohibits any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada from undertaking a broad range of financial and business transactions with any of the listed individuals or entities. The individuals listed in the schedule to the regulations are also rendered inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. These measures were taken in coordination with the United States and the United Kingdom, and in solidarity with the European Union. These sanctions underscore Canada’s grave concerns with the ongoing human rights violations occurring in the XUAR, affecting Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities.

Canada will continue to call on the People’s Republic of China to fulfill its international human rights obligations and to allow for meaningful, unfettered access to the XUAR so that impartial experts can observe and report on the situation first-hand. Canada will work collaboratively with partners to address the human rights situation in Xinjiang. We have the responsibility to work with others in the international community to ensure that allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity are investigated by an independent international body of legal experts.

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
Arnold Viersen (Peace River—Westlock)
April 20, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00833)
Government response tabled
June 3, 2021
Photo - Arnold Viersen
Peace River—Westlock
Conservative Caucus
Alberta

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