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431-00009 (Foreign affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN PARLIAMENT ASSEMBLED

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

Whereas at one time, Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan numbered in the hundreds of thousands, but today less than five thousand remain; and,

Whereas a recent bombing in early July killed leaders from both communities in Afghanistan, and demonstrates their ongoing vulnerabilities, especially since these leaders were on their way to meet the president; and,

Whereas the Minister of Immigration is already empowered by legislation to allow vulnerable minorities to come to Canada as privately sponsored refugees, directly from the country where they face persecution; and,

Whereas the Sikh and Hindu communities are ready to sponsor Afghan minority refugees;

Therefore we, the undersigned, urge the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to use the powers granted to him to create a special program to help persecuted minorities in Afghanistan.

And further, we urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs to raise the persecution faced by this community with her Afghan counterpart and to strongly advocate for more to be done to protect them.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne

Respect for human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, is fundamental to the development of more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous societies. Consequently, the promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canada’s foreign policy and bilateral engagement.  Global Affairs Canada consistently advocates for the rights of religious and ethnic minorities around the world through both bilateral and multilateral forums.

For example, most recently, as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process on Human Rights on January 21, 2019, Canada called on the Afghan government to undertake a review of the security challenges faced during past parliamentary elections and to apply the lessons learned to ensure the safety of Afghans during the September 28, 2019 presidential election. The Afghan government must do more to prevent incidents such as the tragic July 2018 attack which targeted the Sikh and Hindu community in Jalalabad and killed Avtar Singh Khalsa, the Sikh candidate for the 2018 parliamentary elections. Canada strongly condemns all terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and offers its heartfelt sympathies to all the victims of the attacks and their families.

Canada uses the opportunities of multilateral meetings on Afghanistan, such as the Heart of Asia –Istanbul Process and the November 2018 Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, to raise issues related to human rights in Afghanistan. Canada also raises its support for the full inclusion of all members of Afghan society, regardless of ethnicity, gender or background. Canada is committed to helping the people of Afghanistan create a more peaceful environment that is safe and secure and a country that is well governed.

Canada continues to work with members of the international community to help strengthen the capacity of the Afghan government to protect human rights, to ensure stability and security for all Afghans, including members of minority groups. For example, Canada contributes to the Law and Order Trust Fund of Afghanistan and the Afghan National Army Trust Fund, which support fair representation of minorities in security institutions.

Canada recognizes and applauds the strength and resilience of the Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan. Canada is committed to working with the Afghan government to ensure that Sikh and Hindu minority groups are able to fully participate in Afghan society. Canadian officials frequently raise the issue of human rights with their Afghan interlocutors, and will continue to take every opportunity to emphasize the importance of ethnic minority rights in Afghanistan.

Response by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Marco Mendicino

The Government of Canada takes the protection and promotion of human rights seriously and is deeply concerned with the discrimination and violence that has affected Sikhs, Hindus and other religious and ethnic communities in Afghanistan.

Canada continues to resettle Afghan refugees who have fled Afghanistan. This resettlement is done through the Government-Assisted and Private Sponsorship of Refugees programs.

Resettling refugees is a proud part of Canada's humanitarian tradition. It demonstrates to the world that Canada has a shared responsibility to help those who are displaced, persecuted and most in need of protection. The Private Sponsorship of Refugees program is one of the oldest and best known resettlement programs in the world.

The Government has more than tripled the number of spaces available in the Private Sponsorship of Refugee program over pre-2015 levels, to allow even more Canadians to sponsor refugees to Canada and to reduce wait times.

The Government has been working closely with the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation to identify and resettle at-risk Afghan religious minorities outside of Afghanistan. Some of the applications for vulnerable families in the system are in the process of being finalized with the first of the Afghan sponsored families having arrived in Calgary, Alberta in early March 2019, and families continue to arrive.

Support for religious freedoms both at home and abroad is a priority for the Government of Canada.

Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
December 9, 2019 (Petition No. 431-00009)
Government response tabled
January 22, 2020
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus
Alberta

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

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