That, given the motion adopted unanimously by the House on February 22, 2021, recognizing that a genocide is currently being carried out by the People's Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, in the opinion of the House, the government should:
(a) recognize that Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims that have fled to third countries face pressure and intimidation by the Chinese state to return to China, where they face the serious risk of mass arbitrary detention, mass arbitrary separation of children from their parents, forced sterilization, forced labour, torture and other atrocities;
(b) recognize that many of these third countries face continued diplomatic and economic pressure from the People's Republic of China to detain and deport Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims leaving them without a safe haven in the world;
(c) urgently leverage Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program to expedite the entry of 10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in need of protection, over two years starting in 2024 into Canada; and
(d) table in the House, within 120 sitting days following the adoption of this motion, a report on how the refugee resettlement plan will be implemented.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be here in the House with all members today. I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on Algonquin territory.
Today is an important day. We will be discussing an important program that is within Motion No. 62, a motion to welcome 10,000 Uighur who are facing genocide within China right now, at this moment in time.
This motion calls for the Government of Canada to resettle 10,000 Uighur as of 2024 from third countries. Why third countries? It is because we cannot welcome, unfortunately, Uighur who are currently undergoing the genocide within China, but we can provide safe haven for vulnerable Uighur within third countries. These third countries primarily include countries from north Africa and the Arab world, but not exclusively. There are several other countries where Uighur people are living and are present.
We have heard a lot of testimony from survivors at committees and at the Subcommittee on International Human Rights. In the past we have heard horrifying nightmare stories of people being abused in unspeakable ways, of women being violated and men too. We heard about forced labour. There are over a million people currently in forced labour camps. We heard about children, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, being separated from their families when they should be in the care of their moms and dads.
We know that 20% of the world's cotton is produced in China, likely tainted by forced labour. We know that 35% of tomato products are also tainted by forced labour because they come from the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region. We know that 45% of polyurethane, which is the base material for solar panels, as the world tries to go green, is also tainted by forced labour. This is wholly and entirely unacceptable. This is something that we, as a country and as a human family, must stand up against.
We had a motion from the benches opposite in February 2021 that called on the House to recognize that a genocide is in fact occurring. Thankfully the House voted unanimously and spoke with one voice on that matter. Not a single person voted against it. We unanimously voted to recognize that a genocide is in fact occurring toward the Uighur people.
This issue is not a partisan issue. For those who make it such, shame on them. They know who they are. This is an issue about people who are dying, who are being violated and who are being mistreated. We said after World War II that this would not happen again. After Bosnia and Yugoslavia, we also reconfirmed that intent. After what happened in Rwanda, we did the same, and with the Rohingya again. Now we know, a genocide is occurring.
What are we going to do? We heard the reports. We know the reports. Many of us have read the reports, over 50 pages long, from Michelle Bachelet, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She said that these allegations of the Uighur people are well-founded, and they also may amount to international crimes, including crimes against humanity. These are high crimes in international law, as is genocide.
The international community, in 2005, said that these types of international crimes must be prevented. Therefore, each and every country has a responsibility to protect when we see crimes against humanity occurring, or the threat of them occurring. When we see genocide occurring or the threat of genocide occurring, we, as a human family, as a collective of countries and as Canada, all have a responsibility to protect.
Our responsibility is engaged and we must act. One way in which we can answer this is by voting for this program to welcome 10,000 Uighurs here in Canada. We have a proud tradition in our country of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. This is a proud Canadian tradition.
This program will not halt the genocide. It will put a slight dent in it. This program will not answer our obligation, the responsibility, to protect. It will in part answer it. This is something that speaks to our tradition. This is something that we can do, should do, must do.
In the past, we have welcomed many different people who have been fleeing for their lives from genocides, from crimes against humanity. Recently, we can think of Yazidis, Syrians and Afghans. We can think of Hongkongers. We created some special pathways. We can do this again, now, today.
I will share some facts about the Uighur people. Who are they? We hear the term but we do not know who they are.
Like all people, they are a proud people. They live in the western part of China, what they have traditionally called East Turkestan, what we know in international law as Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region.
Xinjiang has a particular meaning. It means “new frontier” in the tongue of the majority of people within China. It is approximately, as I mentioned, one-sixth the land mass of China. It also has many vast deserts and mountains. It historically has been part of the ancient Silk Road trade route that connected China, that allowed for trade to occur to Europe and the Middle East. That trade route is being revived, but with a modern update, with highways and the free flow of goods.
That is why the supply chain issue is a big question. The current belt and road initiative runs through Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
As I mentioned earlier, 20% of the world's cotton is produced there. Eighty per cent of China's cotton actually comes from the region. I will repeat that for all of us who buy cotton. Eighty per cent of Chinese cotton comes from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, as does 35% of tomato products, pasta and pizza.
I love pasta and pizza. Contrary to first impressions, I am actually one-quarter Italian and one-quarter Sicilian. I joke sometimes that my colour comes from my Sicilian side. It is a bad joke, but I say it sometimes.
We know that approximately 45% of the base materials for solar panels come from that region also. Minerals, such as gold, silver and zinc come from there. It is very mineral-rich.
There has been atomic testing also in the region since the 1960s. In addition to all of the horrors that we heard, these things are occurring.
These horrors are real, so real, as I mentioned, that the former high commissioner of human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that these allegations are well-founded.
Thankfully, in addition to my motion, we had a preview this week in the House when we were discussing and then voted to concur in the immigration committee's report, which called for immigration. That report unfortunately, or fortunately, did not specify something. That report that we all unanimously concurred in this week said that we should create special immigration measures for Uighur people and other Turkic minorities, but we did not specify what those measures should be.
This motion does exactly that. It completes what happened earlier this week, when we said, “Let us do this.” This motion says how. This motion is precise. It is specific. It is time-bound. It is what we need.
In addition to this, we thankfully have a number of initiatives in the House, and I would like to see them all pass and made into law.
First is Bill S-211, which is on forced labour. It is a very important bill. Thankfully, our foreign affairs minister has said that we support it. She said that in August, when replying to Michelle Bachelet's report that there may be crimes against humanity occurring within the region, so already our foreign affairs minister has said such. This initiative started in the Senate and now is in the House. It is actually heading to committee.
We also have a second initiative on organ harvesting: Bill S-223, which is also an important piece of legislation. Organ harvesting does occur within Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region, but not exclusively there. We know that Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, practitioners have been subject to this in the past. It is well documented.
These are a number of the initiatives that are in progress and happening right now. They are initiatives that we should all be supporting.
Our government has done a handful of things. We have implemented Magnitsky sanctions against four individuals and one entity that are active and responsible for these crimes. This was done in advance of the genocide motion of February 2021. We also have a number of advisory opinions for companies operating within Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region. As an advocate, I would like always to see that strengthened, and that must be strengthened through Bill S-211.
I would like to highlight something. While we are speaking squarely about the crimes against humanity and genocide occurring within China, we need to be careful not to fall into unconscious bias about Asians and Chinese people. That is very important, as we advocate clearly and unambiguously, to not to fall into that. At the end, I personally have, on this issue, no qualms, if and when the government in China were to stop doing what it is doing, I personally would not speak on this issue, but only if and when China does stop doing what it is doing. However, until then, all of us, including myself, must speak on this issue.
I would like to impress upon the House how we united behind my motion. I want to share something. My seconder is Rachel Bendayan, a colleague of mine in the benches.