The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, it seems that was indeed the problem. I am terribly sorry.
I was talking about the first criterion for recognizing genocide, that is, killing members of the group. A number of physicians have reported that as many as several million Uighurs have gone missing, and there is no documentation of their whereabouts. At least two years ago, some actors, including Nury Turkel of the Uighur Human Rights Project, were suggesting that several million Uighurs had disappeared. To date, China still has not acknowledged the concentration camps. The fact that so many people are missing could lead us to believe that there have been mass murders of this group, although that is harder to prove, since few people have escaped from the various camps to report their existence and the conditions inside.
The second criterion for recognizing genocide is causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group. In this regard, several witnesses reported to the committee that forced organ harvesting may have been carried out in the Uighur community. Sadly, there is no shortage of accounts from women who were raped in the camps. Women have reported the sexual, psychological and physical abuse they have experienced, which leads us to believe that the second criterion has been met.
The third criterion is that of deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. We know that many Uighurs have been taken from their homes by force, sent to concentration camps and then moved to factories, mainly located in Xinjiang, in order to help to reduce the Muslim population in that part of China. We know that the working conditions in those factories are inhumane and unbearable. Given that the workers are paid little or nothing, this is a form of modern-day slavery.
With regard to psychological destruction, we need only think of China's mass surveillance. As has been mentioned many times, particularly in relation to the issue of Huawei, China has an extraordinary surveillance capacity. The Beijing regime invests huge amounts of money in security and technology. We know that there are security cameras installed everywhere and that, as a result of facial recognition technology, Uighurs can be specifically targeted in a crowd. There is therefore a feeling of ongoing persecution both in China and abroad. We have heard reports of intimidation, harassment and spying from the Uighur diaspora abroad, which leads us to believe that the third criterion is being met.
The fourth criterion in the convention is imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. We know this is happening. Witnesses have told us. The Chinese Communist Party engages in eugenics, practising a form of mass sterilization on Uighur women to reduce the population. Leaked documents show that the government has even set a target and intends to forcibly sterilize 80% of Uighur women of reproductive age. This approach is working. Sadly, the Uighur population's growth rate declined by 84% between 2015 and 2018.
The final criterion for a finding of genocide is forcibly transferring children of one group to another group. Once again, witnesses have testified that children have ben separated from their families. Children have been taken from their families and placed in state-run orphanages, schools or camps to re-educate them, indoctrinate them and turn them into perfect little Chinese citizens, erasing their culture.
I have discussed each of the criteria, but the convention states that the presence of even one of these criteria is sufficient for a finding of genocide.
In this context, I believe that rather than relying solely on the technical analysis of genocide, the government should admit that there is a genocide. The should acknowledge that a genocide is taking place, as he did with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The main message that emerged from the testimony of several witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration was that if we want to tackle the root of the problem, we must stop just treating the symptoms. We must stop implementing measures that only help people after they have been subjected to prejudice and genocide. We must tackle genocide head-on. If we are to tackle the problem, we must be able to name it. This becomes the cornerstone of the measures we can then take to stop the genocide. We must acknowledge that it exists if we want to apply sanctions in response. According to several witnesses, a token acknowledgement will only lead to token measures.
Earlier, colleagues from the government asked why the other Five Eyes countries have not acknowledged the genocide yet. The answer may have less to do with acknowledging genocide and more to do with international relations and the government's willingness to do the right thing about this genocide.
Let me give an example. Foreign affairs minister Zhao Lijian said in November that if the Five Eyes dared to interfere in the government's business and harm China's sovereignty, security and development interests, those eyes could get poked and blinded. That was a direct threat against the Five Eyes.
In my opinion, that provides further justification for the government to take a leadership role in acknowledging the genocide and not be browbeaten by China. Acknowledging the genocide will allow us to have clear measures. It could also prompt governments of other allied countries, the other members of the Five Eyes, to follow suit.
Acknowledging the genocide means clear, appropriate measures could be taken. That acknowledgement would be a political move that could inform the other measures to follow.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saint-Jean for sharing her time with me.
I would also like to pick up on what the member said. I am speaking as a parliamentarian who has heard a lot of the testimony from concentration camp survivors, from experts, from former ministers of government, and from diplomats. I am also speaking as a deeply concerned citizen and a humanitarian and somebody who has a track record of human rights advocacy.
The testimony that we heard at the Subcommittee on International Human Rights was deeply disturbing for a lot of my colleagues and me. We remember these stories and the human tragedies and shared in their experiences. These are things we cannot un-hear. These are things that we cannot un-experience. That is the perspective from which I am approaching this debate.
I was asked for my opinion on what is happening within Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. I pointed to the testimony that we heard at the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, which is a parliamentary committee of this Parliament. In that committee, we put aside our partisan differences to focus on a humanitarian issue. As individuals, as parliamentarians, we put partisanship on the back burner to deal with a very serious crisis. Out of that, we reached a number of determinations after hearing witnesses.
We determined that, number one, there are serious crimes against humanity occurring within Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. We learned that approximately two million people are in concentration camps, where forced labour is happening.
We heard first-hand testimony of a woman who was raped and who had witnessed rape that occurred in front of 200 people. She said that when any of the individuals witnessing those rapes by government officials flinched, they themselves were tortured.
We heard testimony of a man who was apprehended. Everybody we heard from who was apprehended said that it was done without cause and without process. The man who was apprehended was physically examined to such an extent that he thought he would be dissected on the examination table. That was the extent to which the physical examination was taking place.
We know that the BBC, approximately three weeks ago, reported that this is a system. If we read the articles published by the BBC, we know that this is systematic.
More than that, we know this is happening and being directed from the highest levels. There have been leaks of what were called “the China papers” released to The New York Times in 2019. These are 400 pages of original documentation released from the central party, showing that this is a system, that a system is in place where people are being systematically tortured, raped, sterilized and forced to abort. This was later confirmed that same year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, of which the CBC is a member. The China papers first released by The New York Times showed what is happening and the operational directives from the top. The second leak that was published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed the operationalization of what the state is doing.
As a result of all this information, we now know that the American government, our most important trading partner and ally, has named what is happening a genocide. This has been confirmed by the Biden administration, by Secretary of State Blinken, and the government is standing firm on that in America.
The positive thing about President Biden is that we know that he works with other countries, Canada included. I expect that any moves that America takes on these type of files will be done in coordination with other governments, in particular the Five Eyes countries and Canada.
This determination was not only reached by America, but also by a parliamentary committee. It is true that the committee is different from government and different from Parliament, but there were a number of recommendations made by the committee. Those included that genocide is in fact occurring. We also recognized that forced labour is occurring, that Uighur people are being forced to produce products for little or no wages and are being plucked from of their homes and thrown into concentration camps. We learned that when both parents are plucked out of their homes, the children who are left parentless are turned into wards of the state. The media have reported that facilities to house these children are being built in China as we speak right now. We learned that since 2014, approximately 400,000 Uighur people have been moved outside of the province of Xinjiang into mainland China, so they can produce goods. We learned about forced sterilization and forced abortion. We were also reminded that the Canadian, Huseyin Celil, has been imprisoned in China since 2006. This is why we concluded that genocide is in fact occurring.
When asked what my personal position on this is, I have to stand firm with the testimony I heard and the findings we arrived at when listening to the evidence and considering it in accordance with the definition of international covenants, namely the genocide convention of 1948, of which China is a signatory and has ratified its documents.
We know that Canada is now engaged. We have a responsibility to protect. The knowledge that we have forces us to protect. This is a doctrine in international law. Canada was a leader in creating that doctrine. This is something I would like us to reflect upon: the fact that we know, obliges us to act.
What is happening aside from what we have heard about forced labour and sterilization and abortions? We know that 20% of cotton originates from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. That means that 20% of items on store shelves made out of cotton globally come from that region. We know that 32% of tomato products originate out of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, meaning 40% of pasta sauce. I love pizza and pasta, but want to eat pizza and pasta that does not come from forced labour. We know that 41.72% of polysilicon used to produce solar panels originates from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Supply chains are tainted, that is without question.
In conclusion, we need to act. I want to recognize that we have started to act. On January 21, our government issued measures that specifically speak to forced labour and to the serious abuses happening within Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Those measures are real. They deal with importation and exportation. Those measures touch that region and our interaction as a country with that region.
We know that Canada is the fifth-largest investor in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Parliamentarians are watching this debate. People around the world are watching this debate. My message to everybody, Canadians and those internationally, is that they all have power. They have power to act. By sharing information on social media, by speaking to their friends and colleagues, and by raising the alarm, they are helping to reduce harm in this world and to prevent very serious crimes against humanity.
It is not only Parliamentarians—
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I rise today to express my serious and heartfelt concerns with and vehement opposition to the abhorrent abuse and genocide actively being perpetrated against the Uighur people and other Turkic Muslims by the Government of the People's Republic of China. The Conservative Party stands in solidarity with the Uighur community in Xinjiang, China, and with the Uighur diaspora.
Several bodies, including Canada's Subcommittee on International Human Rights as well as two American administrations, have now concluded that the Government of China is committing acts of genocide and other crimes against humanity. These acts of genocide include systemic population control, sexual violence and mass detention. Ideally, Canada is a nation unafraid to stand on the side of freedom and human rights. We in the House have done so before, having recognized and condemned seven genocides that occurred around the world during our nation's history.
Before I continue, I want to reflect briefly on a story I read recently that resonated with me. It is relayed by the book, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown. It is the narrative of the U.S. Olympic rowing team and its journey to Olympic gold in the 1936 Olympics, which were held in Nazi Germany. Throughout the book, two histories play out simultaneously. The first story is about Joe Rantz and the rowing crew at Washington University. The second story revolves around the Nazi propaganda department, its desire to showcase a specific image to the world as well as some of the debate that took place in the United States prior to the Olympics, which included whether the Americans should even participate in the games.
Near the end of the book, the two storylines overlap when the rowing team explores the town of Kopenick, the location of their Olympic rowing venue. Let me quote and paraphrase from page 332 onward:
“But there was a Germany the boys could not see, a Germany that was hidden from them....They knew nothing of the tendrils of blood that had billowed in the waters of the river Spree...in June of 1933, when SA troopers rounded up hundreds of Köpenick's Jews, Social Democrats, and Catholics and tortured ninety-one of them to death....They could not see the sprawling Sachsenhausen concentration camp under construction that summer just north of Berlin, where before long more than two hundred thousand Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies...would die....many of the Köpenickers the boys passed on the street that afternoon were doomed...destined for cattle cars and death.”
Throughout the book, Brown speaks about the lengths the Nazi regime took to showcase an image of Germany that was triumphant, modern and superior, all the while masking their hatred of others in the pursuit of racial purity and power.
Of course the Holocaust is one of the seven genocides that has been recognized in Canada's House of Commons, and now we are debating whether the people's House should recognize yet another.
Unlike the 1930s, however, the world in which we operate today is much different.
Last year the Subcommittee on International Human Rights released a statement regarding the situation of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims. From first-hand witness testimony, it detailed mass instances of forced detention, where prisoners were refused the right to practise their religion and speak their own language; forced labour disguised as poverty reduction and skills training program, surveillance and control over every aspect of life, an effective police state; forced sterilization and population control, and, indeed, China's most recent statistics even show a massive reduction in the number of births in the Xinjiang region; and control and repression. The Xinjiang region is rich in natural resources and a strategic link to central Asian countries as part of the belt and road initiative.
These instances and sadly many other documented cases fulfill the United Nations definition of genocide under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, created following the revelations of the Nazi Holocaust.
We recognize the seriousness and severity of direct comparisons to the Holocaust. Tragically, the evidence is present and plain for all to see. Dr. Adrian Zenz, senior fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, testified before the subcommittee that it was in fact a Holocaust 2.0, but much more sophisticated.
We have heard reference to the chilling drone video from 2019, showing hundreds of men dressed in prison garb, stencilled with the words “Kashgar detention centre” and seated in rows on the ground in a large courtyard outside a train station. They are blindfolded, their heads are shaved, their hands are bound behind their backs and they are being guarded by dozens of police officers in SWAT-like uniforms. I ask people to please watch it if they have not yet done so.
Shortly after this clip aired on the BBC, the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, at the time U.K.'s Chief Rabbi, stated, “As a Jew, knowing our history, the sight of people being shaven headed, lined up, boarded onto trains, and sent to concentration camps is particularly harrowing.”
Australia's Strategic Policy Institute has documented 27 forced labour camps across China using forced and displaced labour for many mainstream brands.
These instances are not rumours or one-offs, but corroborated and verified accounts. We have first-hand testimony from victims who managed to survive and escape the Chinese Communist regime of oppression and torture.
Mr. Omerbek Ali testified before the subcommittee this past July. He stated:
I was electrocuted. I was hung up. I was whipped with wires. Needles were inserted. I was beaten with rubber batons and pliers were used on me.
Ms. Gulbahar Jelilova of Kazakstan was kidnapped from her hotel and transported to prison, where she was stripped, shackled, had blood and urine samples forcibly taken and unknown pills and injections administered, pregnancy tests performed and sexual violence perpetrated against her. She relayed the threats the Chinese state, stating:
They talked to me and told me that I had to remain silent, that if I wouldn't stop talking, they would reach me, because China has long arms. They said they would reach me and kill me anywhere in the world.
Legal academic and journalist Ms. Azeezah Kanji and her colleague Mr. Mehmet Tohti, long-time Uighur rights activists, have reported on these actions as the current stage of the Chinese government's “project of settler colonization and demographic change in the resource-rich territory China refers to as 'Xinjiang'.” Tellingly, this name literally means “new frontier”. The terrifying parallels to the Lebensraum and Anschlusss terminology used by the Third Reich during the 1930s and 1940s are clear.
Kanji and Tohti cite:
...renowned scholar of settler colonialism Patrick Wolfe famously wrote that “the question of genocide is never far from discussions of settler colonialism.” In the case of China’s policies against the Uyghurs, this question of genocide is not just abstract or metaphorical, but imminent and literal.
Continuing the disturbing similarities to the meticulously organized methods employed by the Nazi state, Ms. Kanji testified to leaked official Chinese documents that prescribed mass forced sterilization and mass surveillance in the Uighur homeland.
Human Rights Watch likens the Chinese Communist Party to an “Orwellian high-tech surveillance state”. It says, “No other government is simultaneously detaining a million members of an ethnic minority for forced indoctrination and attacking anyone who dares to challenge its repression.”
Where does this leave Canada?
I was taught that being a Canadian meant our nation stood for something. Like thousands of young Canadian university students, I remember learning about the positive role that Canada's foreign policy played in the 20th century throughout such hallmarks as the 1948 signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Lester B. Pearson's creation of the UN Emergency Force during the Suez crisis and the role of Canadian peacekeepers. We were taught that Canada meant something internationally, that its actions were a force for good, that Canada stood above the fray as an example to the world. Canada is not only a place people want to live, it is a nation that others strive to emulate.
Now is the time for our Parliament to reflect those Canadian values, which are still par for the course in classrooms across our country. Our should work with his American counterparts. Canada should join the republican and democratic senators in the United States to coordinate an international response. Canada is a principled nation that believes in fundamental values, values that run contrary to the interests of the communist Chinese government and its objectives.
Turning back to the book The Boys in the Boat, in 1935, the American anti-Nazi federation called for a boycott of the Olympic games in Nazi Germany. A vote was taken at the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union to send a three-man committee to investigate the atrocities. The resolution failed 58 to 55.
Unlike 1935, we cannot claim ignorance or a lack of knowledge in the broader population. We need to demand internationally that China is held accountable for its genocidal acts. Therefore, we must choose. Canada can stay silent and allow President Xi to gain international favour and superiority through the platform of yet another Olympic games hosted by an authoritarian, genocidal and repressive regime or we can work together with our like-minded allies and call out the horrendous human rights abuses being perpetrated by Beijing against the Uighur people. After all, if there is any truth to the idea of Canada as a nation that stands on guard for freedom and human rights now would be a good time to prove it.
Mr. Speaker, there is a genocide happening in the world. It is happening, it is undeniable, the evidence is there, and this House of Commons is calling it out.
There are one million people in detention camps in China. Women are being sterilized. There is forced abortion and slave labour. People are being ripped away from their families, tortured and murdered simply because of their religion.
Joe Biden and Donald Trump do not agree on much, but when they do, I think we owe it to take a look. The U.S. administration, meaning the previous Trump administration and the current Biden administration, key world leaders, have agreed and said that there is genocide happening in China, full stop.
I will start my speech today by using my political science degree, which I got a few years back, and look back in history at Brian Mulroney, former prime minister, and his leadership on apartheid in South Africa.
Back at that time, there were a lot of people who said, “Who cares? Why are we involved in a situation 15,000 kilometres away in a country where we do not have much connection?” However, Brian Mulroney stood up—contrary to other world leaders, who stood quiet—and a snowball effect started to build support and effect real, tangible change in South Africa. A lot of people today credit Brian Mulroney and Canada for getting Nelson Mandela out of prison and ending apartheid in that country. The then prime minister stood up to people who said that they were not sure, they did not care, it did not matter, they needed more research. Maybe at times people thought it was not worth the effort. Today we look back at that stance and see that it formed part of our Canadian identity.
There are a few of those moments in our history. I think of Vimy Ridge and the contributions of our brave men and women in the First World War and the Second World War. They stand as defining moments of who we are as Canadians. Our leadership stance in South Africa was tough and often ran against the current, but it effected real change, saved lives and formed our Canadian identity. We do not look back today to wonder whether it was worthwhile, if it was important or not, or if it was happening or not. It helped define us here at home and around the world.
However, for as proud as we are of the circumstance and situation in South Africa, we have to be mindful of what we did not do when it came to Rwanda. The House and our country know very well of the difficult story of Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, a former senator and a well-known name across the country. Canada took a different approach in the mid-1990s when it came to the Rwandan genocide. We still talk about that today, but not in proud terms. We committed back then, and several times since, to say that never again will we allow that to happen. A lot of speeches, commitments and talk have been made by elected officials, Canadians, military leaders and other people around the world.
I believe that right now, we of this generation are confronted with our South Africa and our Rwanda in the Uighur situation happening in China.
Some of my constituents in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, or perhaps somebody watching in rural Saskatchewan, a lobster fisherman off the coast of Nova Scotia, somebody in an office tower in Vancouver or a middle-class family in Mississauga might ask, “What does it matter?” To them I would say that it does matter, because it is testing our identity. It is testing our value set to do what we have done before: stand up and take a stand. It is not always easy to confront and it is not always easy to solve, but we know it is there.
The Communist Party in China is not playing by the rules, and it affects us all. The Uighur situation, the genocide happening there, is a clear and prevalent example, but it is not the only one.
We need look no further than what we see in dealing with COVID-19, the challenges with the World Health Organization, with CanSino and the issues that happened with vaccines, the horrible and unfair treatment of our two Michaels, the spying and the infiltration of our institutions. The list goes on, and it says that the Government of China—not the people of China, but the government, the Communist Party of China—is not doing right in this world.
I commend the Bloc Québécois and support the amendment that was made today to the motion. We talked earlier this week about China not deserving the right to host the 2022 Olympics, plain and simple, and there is still time to change that.
More than anything, why this should matter to every Canadian is that when people are being raped and slaughtered simply because of their religion, their skin colour or because of who they are, we have a moral obligation here at home. I do not want to stand in the House of Commons years from now feeling sorry that another 800,000 people were murdered as we stood by and were indecisive about whether it was happening, whether we should have acted or what we could have done. We have done that before and we have the scars. I do not want that to happen again. I do not want to hear speeches in which members say they wish they had acted differently back then.
We are at a fork in the road in our country. Are we going to go down the path that we followed before? Are we going to confront this as we confronted the Nazis in the Second World War and the evil that was taking place in South Africa and make a difference, or are we going to go down the road we took with Rwanda and live with regret?
Today I am thinking of the million people detained in camps that the Chinese call “re-education centres”. The research, studies and information out there are crystal clear. Reports and first-hand accounts have been devastating. I remember watching the news several months ago and seeing a man pick up someone coming out of one of these detention centres who was trembling and barely able to walk. Frankly, the image will never leave my mind. I would describe him as barely alive. It was horrific. We owe it to them to stand up for the people who cannot stand up for themselves.
I want to close my comments today with a personal story about Tursunay Ziawudun, as told in an article by the BBC in the U.K. She tells her story as an example of what happens. She stated that some of the women in the detention camp who were taken away from the cells at night were never returned, and that those who were brought back were threatened against telling others in the cell what had happened to them. “You can't tell anyone what happened, you can only lie down quietly”, she said. Women were forcibly sterilized, including a woman who was just about 20 years old. “We begged them on her behalf”, she said.”
Tursunay was released in December of 2018 and fled to the U.S. A week after she arrived in the United States, she had surgery to remove her womb, a consequence of being stamped on. She said, “I have lost the chance to become a mother.”
That is one story of many that we know are happening today. We know a genocide is being committed. We owe it to pass this motion, but more importantly, we owe it for this country to act again in the best humanitarian interests of the world.
I think of those people there, wondering if humanity will step in for them. I for one, the Conservative Party, other parties we have heard from today and numerous bipartisan colleagues have said we are ready. We are at a decision point. I agree that we have a lot of things going on in this country, but standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves needs to be one of them. The question is, will we stand up for the Uighur and Turkic Muslim people when they need us? I for one say yes, and I believe this House will say yes too.