Lawmakers in Canada’s House of Commons voted in favor of a motion to allow up to 10,000 Uyghurs to live in Canada. The House voted in favor of the proposal 322-0 on February 1, 2023. The bill calls for the program — which would accept Uyghurs living outside China — to begin in 2024 and run for two years. The next procedural step is for a report to be compiled in the next 100 days on how the plan could be implemented.
The bill, M-62, was first introduced by Liberal Party member Sameer Zuberi on June 20, 2022. This was preceded by the Canadian Parliament’s recognition of the Uyghur genocide in February 2021, where the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development made an explicit recommendation that the government should “use existing refugee programs and create an exceptional stream to expedite” the entry of Uyghur and other Turkic refugees into Canada.
Mao Ning, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, accused Ottawa of “politically manipulating Xinjiang-related issues for ulterior motives, spreading disinformation and misleading the public.”
The Uyghur human rights community applauded and welcomed the motion. “This motion sets a very important example of how States can respond to the Uyghur genocide and concretely support Uyghurs refugees at risk in third countries,” said WUC President, Dolkun Isa. “I urge the Canadian government to accept the motion’s recommendations (key provisions), and to quickly implement a resettlement program for 10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.”
“Words are important, but Uyghurs need to see action,” Omer Kanat, executive director of the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, said in a statement. “Every parliament that has officially recognized genocide in the Uyghur region must back up their words with concrete programs to support Uyghurs in need of resettlement.”