Canada’s House of Commons has overwhelmingly voted on Feb. 22 to label China’s treatment of the Uighur minority in its northwestern Xinjiang region as genocide.
The motion received 266 votes in favor. Zero opposed while two members of parliament formally abstained.
Prime Minister Justine Trudeau and majority of his cabinet were absent for the vote. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau was the only member of Trudeau’s cabinet to appear, but he chose to abstain “on behalf of the government of Canada.”
After the vote, Garneau issued a statement, saying that the Canadian government remains “deeply disturbed by horrific reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang, including the use of arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labor, torture, and forced sterilization.”
“The Government of Canada will continue to work with international partners to defend vulnerable minorities and we once again repeat our call for transparency and a credible international investigation in response to allegations of genocide,” Garneau also stated.
China’s Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu denounced the motion, telling the Canadian Press that China “expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” on the motion.
Peiwu further said that the affairs in Xinjiang were “purely internal” and that “no external forces have the right to interfere.”
“We urge the Canadian side to take seriously China’s solemn position, respect the facts, discard prejudice, and correct mistakes, immediately cancel the relevant motions, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs by any means, so as not to cause further damages to China-Canada relations,” Peiwu said.
According to reports, one million Uighurs are detained in camps, which the Chinese government said were “re-education” camps aimed at fighting against extremism.
Uighur detainees also alleged systemic rape and sexual violence in the camps, according to a BBC News report released earlier this month.