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441-00056 (Foreign affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English


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;

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;

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 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Sean Fraser

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. We strongly condemn the attacks against these communities, and offer our condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims.

The Government of Canada remains firm in its commitment to welcome Afghan refugees to Canada, and will work to increase the number of eligible refugees to 40,000. Our commitment to resettle vulnerable Afghan nationals to Canada will be fulfilled through several special measures and programs. As part of this, we announced a special humanitarian program to resettle vulnerable Afghans, such as persecuted religious and ethnic minorities.

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. As with previous large-scale resettlement efforts, we welcome the support of the many Canadians who want to lend a hand. The Private Sponsorship of Refugees program is one of the oldest and best known resettlement programs in the world. Through this program, we’re expanding our partnership with the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation, a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, to resettle hundreds of persecuted Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.

We are working with our partners, both internationally and within the Government of Canada, to find comprehensive solutions, as we know many persecuted minorities remain within Afghanistan. There are operational challenges due to the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan, which pose serious challenges to our ability to ensure the safety and security of our mission. Support for religious freedoms both at home and abroad remains a priority for the Government of Canada. Canada will continue to facilitate refugee resettlement and honour our international humanitarian commitments.

All key statistics, updated regularly, may be found on IRCC’s website at

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. Consequently, the promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canada’s foreign policy and bilateral engagement. Canada consistently advocates for the rights of ethnic minorities around the world including in Afghanistan, through both bilateral and multilateral forums.

Canada acknowledges the persecution and violence faced by Sikhs, Hindus and other religious minorities in Afghanistan over the past four decades of conflict. Canada strongly condemns all terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and offers its heartfelt sympathies to all the victims and their families. Canada closely monitors human rights abuses against ethnic and religious minorities in Afghanistan and has publicly denounced attacks against Afghan Sikhs and Hindus. Canada firmly believes that freedom of religion or belief, including the ability to worship in peace and security, is a universal human right. People must be able to practise their religion without fearing for their lives and safety.

Canada repeatedly shared its concerns on the situation of ethnic and religious minorities and 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 continues to reiterate 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. The Government of Canada has recently announced an allocation of $50 million in humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. This in addition to the $27.3 million already allocated for Afghanistan in 2021. 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 Sikhs and Hindus, as their participation is crucial to ensuring a sustainable peace. Canada has no intention of recognizing the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan.

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.

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 Sikhs and Hindus, as their participation is crucial to ensuring a sustainable peace.

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 to Canada, and teams across the world continue working to bring many more Afghans to safety. Canada also welcomes the initiatives of Canada-based non-governmental organizations working to support Afghan Sikhs and Hindus. This includes the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation’s efforts for the safe exit of Sikhs and Hindus and their resettlement in Canada.

Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
December 13, 2021 (Petition No. 441-00056)
Government response tabled
January 31, 2022
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus

79 signatures

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