Parliamentary committee calls China’s mistreatment of Uyghurs genocide, urges Ottawa to sanction Beijing officials

MPs on a parliamentary committee dominated by the governing Liberal Party say China has committed “genocide” against its Muslim Uyghur minority and has called for Magnitsky-style sanctions against Chinese officials.

The statement from the House of Commons subcommittee on international human rights comes less than a week after China’s envoy to Canada warned parliamentarians against recognizing the mass detention and abuse of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province as genocide. The United Nations calls genocide a crime under international law.

The all-party committee’s three-page statement refers to the detention facilities as concentration camps, and urges the government to not only condemn China’s actions in Xinjiang, but recognize that they constitute genocide, and work with allies to help international observers gain access. It follows a study the committee has undertaken on Xinjiang, a region in northwest China.

The Interparliamentary Alliance on China, a coalition of 150 legislators from 17 countries, tweeted on Wednesday that the Canadian committee is the first parliamentary body to label Beijing’s conduct in Xinjiang “as genocide” against Uyghurs.

The MPs on the subcommittee are also asking Ottawa to impose Magnitsky-style sanctions “on all government of China officials responsible for the perpetration of grave human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims” in the region.

“The subcommittee wishes to make clear that the condemnations in this statement are directed towards the government of China, as represented by the Chinese Communist Party, and not the Chinese people, whom the subcommittee support wholeheartedly and hope that one day will benefit from the peace, freedom and security enjoyed by many others in this world.”

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne issued a statement on Wednesday thanking the committee for its work, but did not say whether Ottawa would impose sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for the brutal repression in Xinjiang.