Following Canada’s sanctions against Chinese officials due to human rights violations against Uyghurs, the leader of the Green Party of Canada demands further actions stating that “these sanctions are a start, but should not be the end

Call it as it is

In a recent publication, Paul states that Canada’s sanctions against Chinese officials are a good step towards justice, but they are not sufficient. Paul urges the government to also declare that the human rights violations against Uyghurs constitute a genocide as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (PPCG).

“The government has failed to name the Chinese governments’ crimes against the Uyghur and other Muslim minorities as genocide, even though these crimes are most accurately described as such.”

Paul references Article II of the PPCG which defines a genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: 

  1. Killing members of the group; 
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; 
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; 
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; 
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Canada’s sanctions against Chinese officials come after mounting evidence of human rights violations against the Uyghur minority group. In its statement, the federal government describes that the collected evidence points to: “mass arbitrary detention of more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities on the basis of their religion and ethnicity, as well as political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilization.”

As the government’s declaration fits the definition of a genocide, Paul makes the following demands to the government so that it fulfills its international duties:

  • Explicitly name, strongly condemn, and raise international awareness of the direct evidence regarding the ongoing genocide;
  • Be the lead convener of discussions with a wide group of international allies to explore all available diplomatic and economic mechanisms for bringing China back into compliance with international law; and
  • Consider which unilateral actions Canada should additionally undertake to secure China’s compliance with international law.  

Follow suit or be the leader

Paul mentions that the refusal of the Canadian government to declare these acts as a genocide comes against one of its international allies, the U.S.A., and 266 members of parliament that have already acknowledged these atrocities as genocide under the PPCG’s definition.

Furthermore, Paul believes that Canada alone can have a meaningful impact on the matter if it decides to voice its opinion on the international stage: “While Canada can and should act in concert with its allies, it is not powerless to act on its own, and has a variety of unilateral options available to respond to the genocide against the Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in China”

The government’s stance

As per the CBC, the federal government has demanded that an investigation takes place in order to come to its own conclusion on what is happening in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, prefers to be cautious with the word “genocide”, stating that the term is “extremely loaded”.

Paul believes that the government’s demand for access to the region for an independent investigation is a shot in the dark given that the government of the People’s Republic of China would never grant this type of access.

Annamie Paul believes that the mounting evidence of human rights violations in the region are enough to label these acts as a genocide and mentions that “even if a country is only aware that there is a serious risk that a genocide is occurring or might occur, it must do everything within its power to prevent the genocide from taking place.”

Luis Alvarez

Luis graduated from McGill University with a B.A. in International Development and a minor in Communications. He was born in Mexico and immigrated to Canada when he was nine years old. He is passionate about the environment and about effective ways to collectively address the issue of climate change. In his free time, Luis likes to travel across Canada to hike and discover its beautiful sceneries.

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