The Trudeau government’s reluctance to stand up to Beijing can’t be explained away by the predicament of the two Michaels, genocide expert says
Released last week, the Freedom in the World report for 2020 shows a drop in aggregate scores for 73 countries, “shifting the international balance in favour of tyranny.” Most of the world’s people live in countries where democratic prospects deteriorated last year. Owing to India’s descent into the “partly free” classification, fewer than 20 per cent of the world’s people now live in free countries.
This perfectly describes the postures Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has adopted in the case of Beijing’s outrages generally, but also particularly in the matter of Beijing’s genocidal torments of the Muslim Uyghurs of Xinjiang and other Turkic minorities. After everything the Xi regime has done, not so much as a single Chinese official is sanctioned under Canada’s Magnitsky laws. The Trudeau government’s rote excuse for inaction is that we must work with our allies. But when our allies act, Canada is absent.
And even when the House of Commons voted 226-0 last month to declare Beijing’s persecution of the Uyghurs a genocide — which is also the bipartisan consensus of Canada’s closest allies, the Americans — Trudeau’s cabinet abstained from the vote and found another ally, Boris Johnson’s embattled British government, for the purpose of pipsqueaking on the subject. Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab agreed to “call on China to allow an international and independent expert investigation into allegations of genocide in Xinjiang.”
For a glimpse of what Beijing might allow for propaganda purposes along those lines, the World Health Organization’s fatally compromised “investigation” into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan will give you an idea. China will not allow an independent investigation of the kind Garneau describes, and Garneau knows it.
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This week, the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a nonpartisan think-tank based in Washington, D.C., released an exhaustive 25,000-word analysis relying on eyewitness evidence, satellite imagery and leaked Chinese government reports that shows conclusively that Beijing’s state terror in Xinjiang constitutes a total violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
“While commission of any one of the Genocide Convention’s enumerated acts with the requisite intent can sustain a finding of genocide, the evidence presented in this report supports a finding of genocide against the Uighurs in breach of each and every act prohibited in Article II (a) through (e),” the analysis concludes.
Undertaken in co-operation with the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (I should disclose I’m one of the centre’s senior fellows), the Newlines Institute brought together several dozen experts in international law and genocide studies along with authorities on the subject of Chinese ethnic policy and experts on the region. Among them are David Scheffer, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, John Packer, director of the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre, Baroness Helena Kennedy, the former principal of Oxford University’s Mansfield College, and four former Liberal cabinet ministers: Irwin Cotler, Yves Fortier, Allan Rock and Lloyd Axworthy.
In granular detail, the analysis sets out the Xi regime’s deliberate intention to destroy the Uyghur people through a system of targeted executions, top-secret internment camps, the forcible sterilization of women, the forcible transfer of children into high-security orphanages and boarding schools, and the “eradication of Uighur identity, community, and domestic life.” The genocide involves systematic rape, sexual abuse and public humiliation, the placement of Han Chinese Communist Party cadres in Uyghur homes, mass surveillance including racial face-recognition software, the mass transfer of Uyghur people into labour camps across China, and on and on.
Kyle Matthews, executive director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University, says the Trudeau government’s reluctance to stand up to China can’t be explained away by the predicament of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians imprisoned in China more than two years ago in retaliation for the detention of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. Justice Department extradition request. Matthews was one of the experts consulted in the Newlines Institute analysis.
As for the independent, on-the-ground investigation Trudeau and Garneau say they want, “there’s no hope in hell” of that happening, Matthews told me. Beijing simply won’t allow it. While the Newlines Institute study deliberately omits any recommendations for action, Matthews says the obvious immediate course has been set out already, in last month’s 226-0 vote in the House of Commons: Declare Beijing’s crimes against its Muslim minorities to be a genocide, and stay away from the 2022 Winter Games.
That’s for starters. Canada should also be working for a “co-ordinated blockage” of Western companies operating in China and the barring of Chinese technology companies from further intrusion into Western democracies. “Public diplomacy, public naming and shaming, and economic disentanglement,” he said. “I don’t know what else is going to work.”