Bob Rae calls on UN to investigate evidence of genocide against China’s Uighur minority

Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations says he’s called on the organization’s Human Rights Council to investigate whether China’s persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang province should be considered an act of genocide.

“There’s no question that there’s aspects of what the Chinese are doing that fits into the definition of genocide in the genocide convention,” Bob Rae told CBC Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton. “But that then requires you to go through a process of gathering information and of making sure that we’ve got the evidence that would support that kind of an allegation.”

Last month, a House of Commons subcommittee tabled a report concluding that China’s treatment of the mostly Muslim minority — including mass detentions in concentration camps, forced labour and population control measures such as forced sterilization — meets the definition of genocide.

The Chinese foreign ministry lashed out at the report’s findings, calling it “full of lies and disinformation” and warned parliamentarians to “avoid doing any further damage to China-Canada relations.”

Arif Virani, the parliamentary secretary to Canada’s justice minister and attorney general, has told the Commons that “it is genocide that appears to be taking place today in China.”

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne previously said he is “deeply disturbed” by the committee’s report, but did not say whether Ottawa would impose sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for mistreatment of Uighurs living in Xinjiang province.

Rae, who previously served as Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar, said Canada cannot turn a blind eye to the plight facing China’s Uighur population. 

“But as I’ve learned in my work on the Rohingya, there’s a big difference between information and evidence. And what we have to do now is see how we can gather evidence in order to carry out further steps, according to the genocide convention,” he said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live.

A number of activist groups have already urged the agency’s Human Rights Council to probe potential human rights violations and to implement commitments on genocide prevention. 

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