Genocide in Xinjiang with silence from Canada

The Canadian government’s silence about ongoing genocide speaks volumes

In a mountainous region thousands of miles from the glittering lights of Beijing, a people face cultural extinction. Within the remote and sparsely populated region of Xinjiang, a tremendous evil is at hand while the world watches with an indifferent gaze. The inhabitants of the region, the Uyghur people, with a history spanning thousands of years, face a genocide of epic proportions.

The Uyghurs sit at the eastern edge of the Turkic world. Unlike other Turkic groups, the Uyghurs’ national aspirations suffered following the Qing Dynasty’s 18th-century conquest. Subjugated and deprived of a nation, the Uyghurs were left powerless over their collective future. In the subsequent decades, a series of clashes between various political groups culminated in the 1949 absorption of the Uyghurs into the People’s Republic of China.

Under the new regime, Beijing began a rapid assimilation program bent on enacting conformity across the budding communist nation. The Uyghur language, religion, and culture faced a ferocious onslaught as the Chinese government fought to maintain control over the northwestern region. In the 1950s, the Chinese government ordered the migration of thousands of Han Chinese — China’s largest ethnic group — in the first of many policies promoting assimilation. Consider a report released from Arizona State University indicating the Han population rose from 220,000 (6.9 per cent) in 1949 to 8.4 million (40 per cent) in 2008.

The demographic shift is no coincidence or product of the natural migration of peoples between areas. Instead, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sought to actively dilute the Uyghurs into a subservient people deprived of their national identity. Under the guise of economic development, Chinese organizations such as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), moved at least hundreds of thousands of Han Chinese into Xinjiang, dramatically shifting the region’s demographics.

In 2014, Xi Jinping, the CCP general secretary and president of China began interning Uyghurs in concentration camps with the “Strike Hard Against Violent Terrorism” campaign. Under the guise of “vocational training” and “re-education,” the Chinese government began the largest internment of people since the Second World War with as many as three million Uyghurs detained.

Today, the campaign is worsening with reports of torture, compulsory sterilization, rape and brainwashing. Forced to recite slogans in Mandarin pledging loyalty to the CCP, beaten for praying, and tortured at the whim of the Chinese authorities, the Uyghurs face individual bodily harm and collective cultural annihilation.

Concurrently, the world continues to grovel to the Chinese government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent Canadian troops to a military parade where they saluted Xi Jinping. Furthermore, the Trudeau government, unlike the other Five Eyes, welcomed Huawei to build a 5G network, despite the company’s role in surveilling Uyghurs.

In the fading days of the Trump administration, American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rightfully declared the situation in Xinjiang a genocide. Last week, Parliament unanimously passed a Conservative motion calling on the Liberal Government to recognize China’s atrocities against the Uyghurs as a genocide. Additionally, MPs also passed an amendment introduced by the Bloc Quebecois calling on a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games should the genocide continue.

However, hope of Canada following the United States in holding China accountable collapsed when Liberal Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau abstained on behalf of the “Government of Canada.” The abstention ought to shock Canadians as their government chose to ignore the will of Parliament. In doing so, Garneau revealed the dark underbelly of the Trudeau administration — one that claims to cherish and protect minorities while remaining silent in the face of their cultural destruction.

Regardless of the genocide’s progression, the Olympics and all economic activities benefiting China ought to cease. Doing business with a country that utilizes de facto slavery against its own people, imprisons political dissidents, and executes thousands annually is not only an act of complicity, but support.

The lights of the internment camps only remain illuminated because of the world’s economic relations with Beijing. However, concerned Canadians, organizations, universities, and governments can take action through reevaluating engagements with complicit Chinese institutions. In doing so, Canada can proudly defend human rights and perhaps change history. The alternative is a red Maple Leaf affixed to the death certificate of the Uyghur people.


 Graphic by Chloë Lalonde  @ihooqstudios


Out of sight, out of mind

Image via Flickr

The government of Canada has forgotten about Alzheimer patients. Institutions that care for seniors with some form of dementia appear to be those who receive the least attention when it comes to funding and support. If greater financial assistance were given to these institutions, tragic incidents like Frank Alexander’s death in 2011, caused by frightened Alzheimer’s patient Joe McLeod in an elder care facility in Manitoba, would not occur.

According to the National Post, McLeod was not found criminally responsible for the death. His condition causes him to suffer from occasional violent outbursts of anger due to confusion. He does not remember these episodes. Prior to being put into a home, McLeod lived with his wife. After several violent outbursts, the man was put into prison for a month awaiting a hearing. Is this really how we treat our Alzheimer’s patients in Canada?

These situations are not rare and they are not going away. According to the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, “within a generation, the number of Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia will more than double, ranging between 1 and 1.3 million people.”

Many with the disease have anger episodes due to the frustration of being constantly confused. Unfortunately, elder care facilities lack the proper training and funding to be able to take care of each patient based on their own specific needs, and jail is certainly not a suitable option either.

My grandmother has Alzheimer’s and I would certainly not feel comfortable with a man with a condition similar to McLeod’s staying at her care facility. However, I don’t think he should have been thrown into a jail either. The solution to the problem is for the government to stop clumping all Alzheimer patients into one category. Everyone has certain levels of the disease, some more severe than others, and everyone acts out in different ways. Each patient should be separated within the care facility, or there should be specialized facilities for each particular level of Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada says that “quality of life for people with dementia is largely dependent on their connection with others. Maintaining a relationship can be a complex and challenging process, especially when verbal communication is affected.”

Patients need different levels of care and I don’t think nurses are equipped or trained properly to handle each different scenario. This is going to cause a real problem, since the next generation is aging and are going to be in this situation as well.

Soon to be overcrowded care facilities may have to double up or triple up rooms in order to accept all patients, which can pose a serious threat if someone acts out just as McLeod did. Furthermore, as the National Post pointed out in an editorial published Jan. 4, if care institutions become too overcrowded, Alzheimer patients may be forced to go home with their families, which can be extremely costly, let alone worrisome. The Alzheimer Society of Toronto notes that “the impact of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias engulfs whole families, and affects far more than the half a million people living with the disease.”

It is time to pay greater attention to Alzheimer institutions and help support them so we can take better care of patients. Alzheimer’s is rated second as the disease that is most feared among aging Canadian, and we need to make Alzheimer’s patients a bigger priority in the near future.

With files from George Menexis.

Exit mobile version