Canada formally designated the persecution of a Muslim sect in China as a genocide, following a bipartisan vote in the House of Commons earlier this week on a motion put forward by the Conservative Party.
Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison said the intent of the motion was to take a stand against the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uighur population, a Muslim minority group in southwest China.
“We put it forward because we felt it was really important with the raping, the murders, the way that the Muslim population in China is being treated is just wrong,” Morrison said.
The vote was unanimously in favour from all parties except for two Liberal cabinet minsters who abstained.
Tow years ago, Amnesty International reported that Uighurs and other ethnic populations are being persecuted in mass detention “re-education” camps, with estimates at several hundred thousand to over one million. The Amnesty International report includes testimony from detainees and family members of detainees who say punishments can include food deprivation, solitary confinement, beatings, and use of restraints and stress positions.
Morrison added that the motion also sends a message to the Chinese government on the imprisonment of Michael Korvig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians who have been jailed in China for over two years.
“We need to be more forceful and we have a country with assets, a lot like they have too, but we have a lot of assets that they want,” said Morrison, “so lets work together and try to get the Michaels home and go over there to enforce UN sanctions on the genocide.”
The motion condemning the treatment of the Uighurs also included provisions for a potential boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, and suggested a relocation of the event if the genocide continues.
Morrison sympathized with athletes who work their entire lives to earn a spot at the world’s biggest sporting stage.
“The hardest part is these athletes work out for years and years to get to that level where they’re exactly where they want to be to perform the best they possibly can…to have them [Olympics] boycotted is very disappointing and depressing,” Morrison said. “But on the other hand, when you look at a genocide, imagine that, so I think genocide is certainly something that we have to deal with and hopefully we don’t get to the point where we have to relocate, but if we do, we do.”
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