By ERIN O’TOOLE
Leader, Conservative Party of Canada
MORE THAN A MILLION Uyghur men and women have been detained in a vast network of camps in northwestern China. The Communist state has acknowledged the existence of these camps, and claims they are used for the “re-education” of Uyghurs and other minorities.
For years, the Chinese state has been destroying the graveyards and religious sites of Uyghur Muslims. Their language has been banned from schools in Xinjiang. And practicing the Muslim faith, as they have for over 1,000 years, can land you in a camp.
Xinjiang may seem very far away to most Canadians. Its people may seem unknown. And China has been taking advantage of that.
Multiple reports show that China is using mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination, mass rape, physical and mental torture, and forced sterilization to oppress and destroy the Uyghur population.
The Chinese State has publicly acknowledged their efforts to sterilize Uyghur women, bragging about it on social media, calling them “baby-making machines.”
They have also separated hundreds of thousands of Uyghur children from their parents.
The Genocide Convention defines genocide very clearly with a list of acts committed with the intent to destroy an ethnic or religious group.
We know that China is committing these four elements of genocide:
- Forcibly transferring children.
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births.
- Deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated for its physical destruction.
- Causing serious bodily harm.
We know that China is committing those acts with the intent to destroy the Uyghur Muslim population.
That is evident in the massive scale of their undertaking.
This is a highly organized, calculated and expensive operation.
Destroying the Uyghurs is a policy of the Communist government at the highest levels. One they have invested in at a scale that is difficult to imagine.
They have built massive detention centres. Infrastructure networks to reach them: roads, rail, powerlines, water, and sanitation.
Developed a mandatory smartphone app to track every movement and deployed it to millions of people in Xinjiang.
And the state has employed untold thousands of investigators, prison guards, and “re-educators” in this effort.
Imagine for a moment how many individuals it would take to detain a civilian population of one million people.
How many people does it take to orchestrate the removal of hundreds of thousands of children from their families?
How many doctors and nurses would you need to forcibly sterilize tens of thousands of women?
How many police would you need to track the every move of civilians?
China is acting with the intent to destroy and they are leveraging the full weight of the government to do so.
They have taken the children.
They have sterilized the women.
They are causing bodily harm.
And they are deliberately inflicting conditions designed to destroy the Uyghurs Muslims.
And so, I ask Prime Minister Trudeau. How much more evidence of atrocities do you need?
What more must the Uyghurs endure before you will say something?
Around the world, we have solemnly uttered the phrase “never again” but it falls flat without action.
Action, as Elie Wiesel said, is the only remedy to indifference, the most insidious danger of all.
“Never again” demands action before more atrocities are committed.
We cannot say “never again” and turn a blind eye to government coordinated rape, torture, indoctrination and forced sterilization.
We cannot remain silent.
Silence only helps those who commit crimes against humanity, never the victims.
Today, Canada’s Conservatives are calling on the Parliament of Canada to recognize that genocide is currently being carried out by the People’s Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.
We are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to officially adopt this position.
We are calling for an end to silence.
Canada may be a small country in terms of population.
But we are a towering giant when we use our voice to defend human rights and dignity.
And right now, over a million people half a world away need us to do just that.
Erin O’Toole is the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. This statement was read in the House of Commons during an opposition day asking the House to declare that “a genocide is currently being carried out by the People’s Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.”