The House of Commons has declared the Chinese Communist Party’s mass human rights abuses against the Uyghur people as a genocide following a successful vote on Monday afternoon.

Conservative MPs Michael Chong and Garnett Genuis introduced the motion following reports of torture and mass sexual abuse being perpetrated in the Xinjiang region. 

While the motion received support from members of all parties, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal cabinet abstained from participating in the vote. 

The motion received 266 votes in favour and 0 votes against. 

The motion’s text calls on the federal government to “recognize that a genocide is currently being carried out by the People’s Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims and call on the government to officially adopt this position.” 

An amendment to the motion introduced by the Bloc Québécois also called on the Beijing 2022 Olympics to be relocated from China should the government continue to be complicit in genocide. It passed with 229 votes in support and 29 votes against. 

Critics have accused Trudeau of kowtowing to China after he refused to use the term “genocide” to refer to China’s internment of the Uyghurs. 

When asked whether he would use the designation last week, Trudeau called the term “extremely loaded” and said that he worried its use could “weaken” its application.

“First of all, on determinations of genocide… The principles of international law and the international community in general I think rightly takes very very seriously the label of genocide and needs to ensure that when it is used it is clearly and properly justified and demonstrated so as not to weaken the application of genocide in situations in the past,” said Trudeau. 

“That’s why it’s a word that’s extremely loaded and is certainly something that we should be looking at in the case of the Uyghurs.”

In 2019, the prime minister accepted findings by the commission into the disappearances of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls which stated that Canada was complicit in an ongoing act of “genocide.” 

“We accept their findings, including that what happened amounts to genocide,” said Trudeau at the time. 

“There are many debates ongoing around words and use of words. Our focus as a country, as leaders, as citizens must be on the steps we take to put an end to this situation.”

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