Canada’s unions call on Ottawa to protect Uyghurs in China

February 24, 2021

Canada’s unions applaud Parliament’s recognition that the Chinese government is committing genocide against its Muslim minority and is now calling on Ottawa to act accordingly.

The Government of Canada should now move to officially recognize the genocide and implement the recommendations of the Subcommittee of International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (SDIR).

Witnesses say the persecution of Muslim groups in Xinjiang has included mass detention and inhumane treatment, forced labour, pervasive state surveillance, population control and the eradication of Uyghur culture and religion.

It is reported that over three million Uyghurs have been interned in concentration camps. Nearly a million Uyghurs have been forced into industrial slavery in manufacturing facilities across mainland China.

Due to the repressive climate, human rights monitoring by international organizations is not possible and due diligence in supply chains cannot be conducted. These forced labour practices are tainting global supply chains.

Canada’s unions support the human rights committee’s recommendations, which call on the Government of Canada to:

  • Investigate potentially problematic sources of consumer goods and to take a strong stand against the use of forced labour, particularly when it involves Canadian companies;
  • Enhance import control mechanisms, to prevent products made with forced labour from entering the Canadian market;
  • Impose sanctions on entities and individuals that benefit from the use of forced labour;
  • Empower the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise with independence and the power to investigate human rights abuse allegations and enact a comprehensive human rights due diligence law that compels businesses to respect the most current international human rights standards across their global operations and supply chains and be held accountable for harms caused or on behalf of their operations; and
  • Conduct a review of its procurement practices to ensure it is not purchasing products manufactured through forced labour.

Canada’s unions are also calling on the federal government to condemn other human rights violations including mass detention, inhumane population control measures, and to ensure the protection of activists and Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims living in Canada who have experienced harassment and intimidation by the Government of China.

Here at home, Canada’s unions reject the rise in Sinophobia fuelled during the COVID-19 pandemic and underscore that this statement addresses the actions and practices of the Government of China, as represented by the Chinese Communist Party, and not the Chinese people.

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