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441-00003 (Foreign affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons of Canada

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons of Canada to the following:

Whereas, Abdul Rahman Khan the Amir of Afghanistan, who was installed by the British government and received a subsidy from them, waged a genocidal campaign against the Hazaras from 1891 to 1893, wiping out the vast majority of this ethnic group;

Whereas, tens of thousands of Hazaras were forcefully displaced from their lands while many other thousands were forcefully proselytized (from Shia to Sunni), raped and enslaved from 1891-1893;

Whereas, in August 1998 hundreds if not thousands of Hazara men, women, children and elders were slaughtered in the cities of Mazar-e-Sharif and Bamiyan;

Whereas, the Hazaras continue to face systemic and targeted persecution in post-2001 Afghanistan, such as the killings of newborn infants in Dasht-e-Barchi`s maternity ward in May 2020 or the targeted attacks in Behsud (Maidan Wardak province), Jibrail (Herat) and Jalalabad (Nangarhar) from January to March of 2021;

Whereas, Canada has expended $3.6 billion in assistance to Afghanistan and lost 158 brave men and women in uniform in the fight against the Taliban;

Whereas, Afghanistan remains one of the largest recipients of Canada's international financial assistance;

Therefore we, the undersigned, call upon the Government of Canada to take the following actions:

1. Formally recognize the 1891-1893 ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the Hazaras as a Genocide.

2. To designate September 25th as Hazara Genocide Memorial Day.

3. Support Bill C-287 to ensure that all development assistance sent from Canada to Afghanistan is contributing to the peace and security of the region for all peoples.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

Respect for human rights is fundamental to the development of more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous societies. The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canada’s foreign policy, and Canada consistently advocates for the rights of ethnic minorities around the world, including in Afghanistan, in both bilateral and multilateral forums.

Canada acknowledges that ethnic and religious groups in Afghanistan have suffered significantly from the past four decades of conflict. Canada closely monitors human rights abuses against ethnic and religious minorities in Afghanistan and has publicly condemned attacks against the Hazara community in Afghanistan. Canada denounced the tragic attack on May 8, 2021, against a girls’ high school in Kabul, which claimed the lives of 85 people, mostly young Hazara girls. Attacks such as this are a visible demonstration of the broader issues of persecution, discrimination, forced conversions and targeted attacks that ethnic and religious minorities face in Afghanistan at the hands of armed groups.

Canada also notes the historic and systematic discrimination and prosecution of the Hazara population in Afghanistan, and recalls the tragic events of 1891-1893, as well as those of August 1998. Events such as these should never happen again. The determination of whether a situation constitutes genocide must however be done by a competent international or national court or tribunal, bearing in mind that the legal definition of genocide is precise and complex, as outlined in international treaties such as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Canada is a party.

Canada has repeatedly shared its concerns on the situation of ethnic and religious minorities in Afghanistan, and continues to call for the full inclusion of all Afghans into every aspect of society, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender. Canada, alongside its international allies, continues to call for adherence to obligations under international human rights law, including the rights of women, girls, and minority groups, and that international humanitarian law is upheld in all circumstances. With the Taliban’s return to power, Canada recognizes that Afghanistan is at a pivotal moment, and is closely monitoring developments on the ground. One of Canada’s foreign policy priorities is to ensure the respect for Afghanistan’s international obligations, including forming an inclusive and representative government and protecting the fundamental rights of all Afghans. Canada reiterates that all ethnic and religious groups must be represented at all levels of Afghan government and society in order to help address the underlying problems facing the country, the root causes of discrimination and the enduring legacy left by decades of conflict. Canada has no intention of recognizing the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan.

In 2021, the Government of Canada announced a total of $133 million in humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. Canada will continue to work closely with trusted Afghan partners on the ground and international partners to bring attention to the persecution of ethnic minorities in Afghanistan and to advocate for the meaningful inclusion of marginalized groups, including the Hazara, as their participation is crucial to ensuring a sustainable peace.

The promotion and protection of human rights lies at the heart of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan and Canada’s development and security support in Afghanistan has helped promote diversity and improve the safety of ethnic minority groups over the past two decades. Canada is exploring ways to continue its support for Afghan human rights defenders and remote monitoring activities of the human rights situation by human rights bodies from outside of Afghanistan. Going forward, receiving unbiased and verified accounts of human rights atrocities will be crucial for the international community’s decision-making around its future engagement with the Taliban.

On August 13, 2021, Canada announced a special humanitarian program to focus on particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals, including religious and ethnic minorities. Canada’s special immigration program has already brought thousands of Afghans, including Hazaras, to Canada, and teams across the world continue working to bring many more Afghans to safety.

Presented to the House of Commons
Alex Ruff (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound)
November 24, 2021 (Petition No. 441-00003)
Government response tabled
January 31, 2022
Photo - Alex Ruff
Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound
Conservative Caucus
Ontario

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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