BONOKOSKI: China and Canada playing a game of ‘who’s worse?’

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Before Canada and China ante up more aggressive threats, perhaps the time is long past to further investigate the 215 unmarked graves of children on the grounds of the now-defunct residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

In other words, dig them up. Respectfully.

Same with the hundreds of graves found at the former Marieval residential school on Cowessess First Nation 165 kms east of Regina.

Let’s see what we got.

Radar technology for penetrating earth is far from 100% accurate. This has been acknowledged. Ground-penetrating radar can detect metal and non-metal objects, as well as voids and underground irregularities.

It makes it possible to measure the dimensions, depth and thickness of targets, but it can’t detect whether the impression is a child’s body or a discarded duffel bag.

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So the only way of knowing what’s really down there — as in knowing for sure — is a forensic exhumation.

This is not to say I doubt for a second that Indigenous children are buried in those two sites. But how many?

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The discovery of the first graves has led to a United Nations tug of diplomatic war and slanging match between Canada and China, with the graves in B.C. giving added opportunity for China to deflect allegations of crimes against its Uyghur Muslims.

Just before Canada was about to issue a call for an international investigation into crimes against Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province, a Chinese diplomat stepped in with Beijing’s own proposal.

It wants an investigation into Canada.

“We are deeply concerned about the human rights violations against the Indigenous people in Canada,” Jiang Duan, a senior official at China’s mission to the UN in Geneva, said at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

Jiang’s demand came immediately before Canadian officials read a statement that called on China to allow the UN human rights chief access to the Xinjiang region to investigate the more than one million Uyghur people who have been unlawfully detained there.

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The statement also mentioned the continuing clamp down in Hong Kong and ongoing reports of repression in Tibet.

“We call on Chinese authorities to abide by their human rights obligations,” said Leslie Norton, Canada’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva.

The duelling demands represented a deep geopolitical and further ideological divide at the top UN human rights body.

Iran, Russia, Belarus, Syria and Venezuela also backed China’s demands for an investigation in Canada.

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Meanwhile, more than 40 countries have signed the statement read by Norton, including Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States.

“In Canada, we had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Where’s China’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission?” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked at a news conference on Tuesday.

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“China is not recognizing there is even a problem. That is a pretty fundamental difference,” Trudeau added.

“That is why Canadians and people around the world are speaking up for people like the Uyghurs who find themselves voiceless (and) faced with a government that will not recognize what is happening to them.”

Chinese media have worked themselves into a frenzy over Canada’s push for an investigation of Uyghur abuses, with the Global Times stating that Canada, Britain and the U.S. were a “cartel of killers” who were whipping up “global Xinjiang hysteria.”

Where did this all begin? Well, this standoff began with Canada’s arrest on an extradition warrant of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and the quid pro quo of China snapping the Two Michaels off the streets — Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — for being the right nationality at the wrong time.

Ever since, it has been spinning in circles, out of control and with no respite in sight.

markbonokoski@gmail.com

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