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441-00896 (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, Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan. The Minister of Foreign Affairs publicly denounced the tragic attack of April 19, 2022, against Hazara students in Kabul. Canada was also deeply troubled by the attack of September 30, 2022, at the Kaaj education center in Kabul. Attacks such as this are reprehensible, and serve as a grave reminder of the broader issues of persecution, discrimination, and targeted attacks that ethnic and religious minorities, in particular the Hazara, Sikh and Hinds communities, face in Afghanistan at the hands of armed groups.

Canada also notes the historic and systematic discrimination and persecution of the Hazara, Sikh and Hindu 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.

Canada has repeatedly expressed deep concern about 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.

Canada has also consistently called on the de facto Taliban authorities to respect Afghanistan’s international commitments, including forming an inclusive and representative government and protecting the fundamental rights of all Afghans. Canada reiterates that 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.

So far, in 2022, Canada has allocated over $143 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to the needs of vulnerable populations in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Canada is supporting a multi-sectoral humanitarian response across Afghanistan, including a particular emphasis on the provision of life-saving food and nutrition assistance. For example, with Canadian support, humanitarian partners provided food and livelihoods support to 21.7 million people in need and acute malnutrition support to 5.2 million children and pregnant and lactating women between January and September 2022.

Canada will continue to work closely with trusted Afghan partners on the ground and international partners to bring attention to the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities in Afghanistan and to advocate for the meaningful inclusion of marginalized groups, including the Hazara, Sikh and Hindu, in every sphere of the Afghan society, 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. Over the last two decades, Canada’s development and security support in Afghanistan has helped promote diversity and improve the safety of ethnic minority groups. Canada was vocal in championing a strong human rights mandate for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) during UNAMA’s last mandate renewal, and welcomed the appointment of Richard Bennett as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan on April 1, 2022. Canada is also exploring ways to continue its support for Afghan human rights defenders. Through engagement with like-minded countries, international organizations, and civil society organizations, the Government of Canada has been able to access unbiased and verified accounts of human rights abuses in Afghanistan. Such information is essential to inform the international community’s analysis, advocacy and engagement with the Taliban, and to lay the groundwork for accountability for perpetrators of human rights abuses.

Canada has committed to resettling at least 40,000 vulnerable Afghan nationals to Canada, one of the largest commitments in the world, through special immigration programs. This includes a humanitarian immigration program which focuses on vulnerable Afghans, including women leaders, LGBTQ people, human rights defenders, journalists, and those who have helped Canadian journalists, members of religious and ethnic minorities, and family members of former Afghan interpreters. Thanks to these efforts, Canada has already welcomed more than 27,000 Afghans, including Hazaras and Afghan Sikh and Hindu to Canada.

Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
November 30, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00896)
Government response tabled
January 30, 2023
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus

35 signatures

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