The Canadian parliament passed a non-binding resolution on Monday declaring China’s treatment of its Uyghur citizens a “genocide.”
The resolution puts pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to formally issue a declaration of genocide. Trudeau has resisted calls to do so, telling reporters last week that he wanted to be sure “all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.”
China has interned at least one million Uyghur and other Muslim citizens in so-called “reeducation camps” in the Xinjiang region. Reports of mass rape and forced sterilization of Uyghur women have emerged over the past year, and the U.S. moved to declare China’s actions a genocide during the last days of the Trump administration.
Canada’s parliament voted 266-0 to declare a genocide, with Trudeau’s cabinet abstaining from the vote. The country is currently locked in a standoff with China over the fate of two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, detained by the Chinese government. The two men were arrested ten days after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, who is wanted in the U.S.
“The international community in general…takes very, very seriously the label of genocide and needs to ensure that when it is used, it is clearly and properly justified,” Trudeau said last week.
China denies it is committing a genocide.
“Western countries are in no position to say what the human rights situation in China looks like,” Chinese ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu told Reuters. “There is no so-called genocide in Xinjiang at all.”