Canada’s House of Commons has unanimously approved a motion to take in 10,000 Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims who have left China, mainly to flee a crackdown in Xinjiang province.
The motion was introduced by Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi and received all 322 votes, including votes from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his cabinet.
The motion’s text also says it “recognizes the ongoing genocide by the People’s Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.”
That’s an important part because Trudeau and every member of his cabinet are not voting in February 2021 on a motion that would define China’s behavior in Xinjiang as reaching what has been described as “genocide.” “Threshold. Four months ago, the House of Commons International Human Rights Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development also described the persecution of the Uyghur minority community and other Turkic Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region as “genocide” and said it demanded that the government recognize this and punish the victims. Sanctions were imposed on Chinese government officials believed to be responsible for human rights abuses in the region.
A delegation of Uyghur leaders, including Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress in Munich; Omer Kanat, executive director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project in Washington; and Mohammad Tohti, executive director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project in Canada, were in attendance as the motion proceeded. Support was evident when Trudeau met with community leaders in Ottawa on Jan. 30.
Tohti tweeted: “Historic vote for Canada. Historic day for Uyghurs and Canadian Parliament. Strong message to China and others.”
The motion acknowledges that those who fled China face “pressure and intimidation” to return, while the countries they are now in face “sustained diplomatic and economic pressure” from Beijing to “detain and deport” them.
It asked Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC, to use its refugee and humanitarian resettlement program to expedite the entry of 10,000 Uyghurs and other people “in need of protection.” It is expected to start next year.
IRCC is expected to submit a report on how the resettlement plan will be implemented.