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Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
House of Commons / Chambre des communes
Sous-comité des droits internationaux de la personne du Comité permanent des affaires étrangères et du développement international

For immediate release


Human Rights Situation of the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, China

Ottawa, November 20, 2018 -

The way of life of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang is under threat. These communities have long been subject to assimilative pressures and outright repression by the Chinese government. However, human rights violations have escalated to troubling new heights since early 2017, when Chen Quanguo, former governor of Tibet, assumed the role of Secretary of Xinjiang.

As many as 1 million Uyghurs are currently being detained without charge in “re-education camps,” where they are subject to psychological abuse and ill-treatment. These camps are equipped with security measures that rival those of prisons – and new camps are being built at a rapid pace.

Those who are not detained essentially live in an open-air prison. Checkpoints are stationed on every street corner, and Uyghur homes are subject to random searches. State surveillance is carried out with an unprecedented level of technological sophistication, and fear has pervaded the entire community. The trappings of Uyghur culture and religious life have become hidden away, and ties with relatives abroad have been severed. Chillingly, DNA and blood samples are forcibly collected. These reports raise the specter of organ harvesting.

Seized of this issue, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development undertook a fact-finding exercise throughout the month of October 2018. One message came through loud and clear: if the international community does not condemn the human rights abuses in Xinjiang province by the Government of China, a precedent will be set and these methods will be adopted by other regimes. Complacency is entrenched by a lack of access to Xinjiang; by the lack of free press; and through the silencing and harassment of Uyghurs living abroad. The Government of China has yet to face consequences for its actions.

The Subcommittee urges the Government of Canada to address this escalating crisis. The Subcommittee will be issuing specific recommendations to the Government of Canada based on the testimony of witnesses, to whom the Subcommittee expresses its utmost gratitude.


“The severity of human rights violations experienced by the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and abroad is staggering. Canada must play its part to stand up for human rights and to galvanize the international community to action.”

-Anita Vandenbeld, M.P., Chair

“Like adherents of Falun Gong and Tibetans, the Uyghurs are named as one of China’s ‘Five Poisons.’ We need only to look to Chen Quanguo’s record as Secretary for Tibet to understand the seriousness of this crackdown against the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.”

-David Sweet, M.P., Vice-Chair

“China’s profound political and economic influence, including on Canadian shores, has blunted any meaningful response to the unfolding human rights crisis in Xinjiang.” -Cheryl Hardcastle, M.P., Vice-Chair

-Cheryl Hardcastle, M.P., Vice-Chair

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For more information, please contact:
Erica Pereira, Clerk of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
Tel: 613-992-9672