Uyghur Canadian leaders urge Trudeau to end ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang. to acknowledge

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Leaders of Canada’s Uyghur community asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau why his government has not followed the Canadian parliament by recognizing the situation in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as genocide.

Trudeau met about 10 community leaders in Montreal on Monday to discuss a wide range of topics related to Xinjiang, including the possibility of banning the import of products produced by forced labor.

“He said he was aware of it and was investigating. He said Canada is considering banning forced labor products entering Canada,” said Keyum Masimov, project leader of the Ottawa-based Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, or URAP, told Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service on Tuesday.

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The organizer of the meeting was legislator Sameer Zuberi, who filed a motion in June in parliament to help Uyghurs fleeing “ongoing genocide” in China by accelerating entry for “10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkish Muslims in need of protection” from 2024.

Parliament voted 258-0 in favor of the measure last month, following the February 2021 motion to recognize the situation in Xinjiang as genocide, which passed 266-0.

“We were able to convey our concern to him that we were surprised at his government’s unwillingness to recognize the Uyghur genocide, as every Uyghur Canadian has at least one relative, neighbor or friend who is imprisoned in the concentration camps,” Masimov said.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with Keyum Masimov, project manager of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, at a meeting of Laurier Club members in Montreal, Nov. 7, 2022. Credit: Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project

Monday’s meeting between community leaders and Trudeau was a message to Uyghurs everywhere that the Canadian government is paying close attention to their plight, Mehmet Tohti, URAP’s executive director, told RFA as he stood on the sidelines of a conference in the European parliament.

It’s a strong signal to China,” Tohti said. “This was a great opportunity to explain to the Prime Minister, who leads Canada, the concrete concerns of the Uyghurs.”

Those concerns included the case of Huseyincan Celil, a Uyghur Canadian serving a life sentence in China on terrorism charges, Tohti said. Authorities in Uzbekistan arrested Celil during a visit there in 2006 and handed him over to China, where he was tried as a Chinese citizen despite obtaining Canadian citizenship, an act that would revoke his Chinese citizenship under Chinese law.

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Tohti acknowledged that the Canadian parliament is pending four laws directly or indirectly related to Uyghur forced labour, and that the Canadian government’s China policy framework, to be announced later this month, will ban forced labor products.

“Most importantly, Canada is fully aware of the Uyghur situation by taking certain steps to resettle 10,000 Uyghur refugees and assist victims of genocide,” Tohti said. “Our hope is that Canada will take bigger and faster steps.”

Translated by Alim Seytoff. Written in English by Eugene Whong.