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Results: 1 - 15 of 2189
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Colleagues, we often have different points of view in our legislature. However, I know that I speak on behalf of all of us when I express our united, heartfelt support for the two Michaels—Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor—and their families. The fortitude they've displayed while unjustly incarcerated in harsh circumstances is a testament to their values and courage.
Colleagues, during our last major study in this committee on the threats to liberal democracy, we repeatedly heard from renowned international experts and academics that Canada is a shining example to the world in its steadfastness and conduct. At a time when populists have attacked the fifth estate—the free media—our Prime Minister, in public meetings in Canada, when tough questions are asked and there's been hostility towards the media from members of the public, has come to the defence of the media's right to ask these tough questions. Yesterday in Vancouver, when the media asked about calls made to former Canadian ambassadors to China, the Prime Minister was clear. He confirmed that the PMO did not direct that these experts be pressured, as has been previously confirmed by our foreign minister Chrystia Freeland.
A hallmark of our government is our strong belief in consultations and speaking with experts. In her opening remarks MP Alleslev spoke repeatedly of muzzling. We had a previous government that often attempted to muzzle experts and scientists, because of its ideologically driven denial of climate change. It was the previous Harper government that not only muzzled experts and scientists, but also attempted to prevent our gathering of data on such important issues as the multicultural nature of our society by cancelling the long-form census, by cancelling our very ability to gather information and for the public to access information.
Our government believes in reaching out, in broad consultations, and not just within Canada but also internationally, especially with our allies in countries that share our liberal democratic values. That's why we've had such great international successes on difficult files, landing free trade agreement after free trade agreement—something the previous government attempted and could not achieve. It just couldn't bring these across the finishing line. Today we're the only G7 country with free trade agreements with every other G7 country. Why? It is because of broad consultations and patient negotiations. We're also a respected member in the Americas on the difficult Venezuelan crisis. I'd like to thank the tremendous consultative work and legal research done by human rights champion Irwin Cotler.
Colleagues, we believe that Canadians will be safer and more prosperous if more of the world shared our values. It's foundational to our foreign policy approach. During this time of geopolitical crisis, when the rules-based international order and the principle of the sanctity of international borders is being fundamentally undermined by Russia's military invasion and annexation of Ukraine's territory, we stand steadfast in our support of Ukraine, lifting the previous government's prohibition on the supply of lethal defensive weapons.
We've not only championed an international rules-based order; we've championed individual rights, the rights of women and girls. We've appointed an ambassador for women, peace and security to champion these rights and to help bring about peace and security in difficult places globally.
Let me conclude by thanking all of the experts who've provided us with invaluable insights on difficult global files, and all of our international allies who've stood with us and spoken out against Beijing's unjust incarceration of our two Canadians.
Chair, we will not be supporting this motion. Thank you.
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
We heard the testimony. We don't need to go through the testimony of Mr. Mustafa Dzhemilev or of Mr. Vladimir Kara-Murza from this past Monday. I believe it's important that this historical truth be acknowledged. I'd like to acknowledge the great work that Mr. Diotte has done on this file as well. I believe we should be able to find a consensus of all parties to move this motion.
Thank you.
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
I thank all members today who are, I believe, unanimously supportive of this.
I'd like to call the question.
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes. I believe we have an opportunity right now, at this moment, to pass this motion unanimously. I think I've acknowledged the past and the good work that Mr. Diotte has done. Continuing to debate what happened years ago does not serve the purpose of making sure that this historic wrong is acknowledged and that this opportunity not be lost. If Mr. Diotte truly wishes to see this historic wrong righted, we have an opportunity right now to pass this motion unanimously. It will be a great achievement to be able to do this in a non-partisan way.
Once again, I call the question.
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Welcome once again, Mr. Kara-Murza, to the foreign affairs committee.
You referenced Mr. Sakharov and the 126 prisoners of conscience during the Soviet period. Very few of those individuals are still living; very few of them are still with us.
One individual who spent 15 years between 1966 and 1986 in the gulag system appeared before our committee three weeks ago: the iconic Mustafa Dzhemilev. He spent 15 years in the gulag for demanding the right of return of the Crimean Tatars to their ancestral homeland.
In his testimony before the committee three weeks ago, virtually on the 75th anniversary of the Sürgünlik, he asked that Canada's Parliament recognize what happened to the Crimean Tatars under Stalin as a genocide.
Mr. Kara-Murza, would you agree that what happened to the Crimean Tatars was in fact a genocide?
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Kara-Murza.
Chair, I'd like to give a notice of motion:
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), and based upon the witness testimony of Mr. Mustafa Dzhemilev on May 16, 2019, and of Mr. Vladimir Kara-Murza on June 10, 2019, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development immediately report to the House the following:
(1) That, in support of the historic truth and as requested by Mustafa Dzhemilev, the Crimean Tatar deportation of 1944 be recognized as a genocide perpetrated by Soviet dictator Stalin, and that May 18 be designated a day of remembrance for the Crimean Tatar deportation (Sürgünlik).
I have it translated into French as well.
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Mr. Kara-Murza, this is perhaps a difficult question because you yourself have been targeted for assassination. Thank goodness you survived. Many of us knew your very good friend Boris Nemtsov. Mr. Cotler knew him personally as well.
Today we're talking about the 296 political prisoners currently incarcerated in Russia by the Kremlin. How many people have gotten away, literally, with the murder of some of the best sons and daughters of the Russian people? How many people are no longer with us? Do you have a list, or is there a list that's been prepared for sanction under the Magnitsky? You referenced one of the assassins involved in the Boris Nemtsov assassination. Is there a list of all of those involved in the assassination of human rights figures, journalists and democratic rights figures in Russia?
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Let me get right at it.
We heard three weeks ago about the slow ethnocide of the Crimean Tatars within occupied Crimea, but what many people in the west don't realize is that the Russian Federation has many autonomous republics with indigenous peoples of Russia. Today, many of those peoples, those indigenous peoples of Russia, are facing sequential arrests and lengthy prison sentences. In certain cases, some are incarcerated in psychiatric asylums. I was hoping that perhaps we could raise the issue of the arrests of those who stand up for indigenous rights of the indigenous peoples of Russia.
You previously read into the record the names of those involved in the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, but Mr. Genser made it quite clear that there's nothing worse than being arrested and being forgotten. I thought it important to read some of those names into the record. However, I'm willing to table those names because I can see that the chair is limited in the amount of time he can provide me.
So, thank you, but perhaps you can comment on the current situation of the indigenous peoples, such as those in the Republic of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Ingushetia, etc.
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Mr. Dzhemilev, as always, it's a pleasure to see you. I think back to 2010, when we sat in your office in the Mejlis in Simferopol, and over tea you related the tragic history of the Crimean Tatars—through the czarist period, the repeated ethnic cleansings that occurred during the time of the Russian empire, and then, of course, the horrors of theSürgünlik, the deportation and genocide of the Crimean Tatars.
At that time, very few people in the world knew who the Crimean Tatars were. After that tragic history, there were not a lot of Crimean Tatars. Today, I believe that most of the world has heard of the Crimean Tatars, but they don't understand the very important historical context of the ethnic cleansings, the genocide and the current ethnocide.
You've already spoken of the importance of the motion that I will be presenting this afternoon. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our colleague Kerry Diotte, who introduced a similar piece of legislation three years ago, as I did last night publicly. I think it's important that we now have an opportunity on this critically important 75th anniversary to do the right thing and to raise international awareness.
Last week Latvia passed a similar motion. Could you explain to us why that historical context is so important, especially today, with the ongoing and meticulously planned strategic ethnocide of the Crimean Tatar people?
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Mr. Dzhemilev, there are very few international leaders who have had lengthy one-on-one conversations with President Putin. In fact, many are perplexed by President Trump's public statements after such lengthy one-on-ones.
You had a critically important 45-minute conversation with President Putin. At that time your family were hostages of the Russian occupation. Your son was, in fact, arrested and incarcerated. Can you provide us with insights from this conversation?
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you so much, Mr. Dzhemilev. Clearly, Mr. Putin had not read the transcripts from the 15 years of interrogations you underwent while you were incarcerated in the Soviet gulag.
Thank you so much for being with us today.
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Mr. Dzhemilev, in case I don't have an opportunity later on, I'd like to say that I look forward to the day when we'll sit and drink tea once again—this time in Bakhchysarai. I truly believe that day will come.
Mr. Dzhemilev, I would request an undertaking on your part to provide our committee with a list of prosecutors, arresting officers, judges, jailers and torturers who have been involved in the repression of Crimean Tatars. Could that be provided to our committee? Then when we write a report, we can have this as an addendum to the report and we can publicly name those individuals.
Mr. Dzhemilev, we know that an incredible militarization has occurred on the Crimean peninsula since the beginning of the occupation. It's tremendously worrying, especially in the context of the nuclear non-proliferation agreements that took a long time to put into place. My understanding is that in addition to the hundreds of thousands of army personnel, there are now terrible weapons on the Crimean peninsula, potentially including nuclear weapons. I was wondering if you'd like to comment on that.
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
This motion is asking the committee to study an ongoing investigation by an international body. It may be misunderstood as an attempt at political interference. It also seems to have some sort of nuance of predetermination of what the outcome might be. Most importantly, we don't want to have any sort of appearance of an attempt to influence an investigation by an international body, so I will not be supporting the motion.
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you, gentlemen.
It's clear that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard is a state-sponsored terrorist organization, as has been recognized by our House of Commons, and that the Iranian theocracy is not only a sponsor of terror but as we've heard from previous testimony, also a corrupt, religious, oligarchic state.
Mr. Ratcliffe, you talked about sanctions and used the phrase that we shouldn't use the “blunt tool” of collective punishment. It was something referenced earlier as well. You don't want to punish the very people who are suffering under oppression. You want targeted sanctions.
One of the legacies of the 42nd Parliament will be the passage of Magnitsky legislation, which specifically targets gross human rights abusers and corruption.
Your wife went through, as you referenced, a secret trial. It's clear, though, that the regime, in its tools of oppression, uses a whole judicial system—police, prosecutors, judges, jailers, torturers—and although some of it is secret, I'm sure that the names of many of those individuals are known. In previous testimony, Mr. Saeed Mortazavi was referred to as a particularly notoriously well-known individual.
Are you aware of an organization that compiles lists of those individuals who are engaged in that judicial process of terror and domestic oppression?
View Borys Wrzesnewskyj Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Mr. Ratcliffe, perhaps I could ask you—and perhaps, Chair, through you, a previous witness, Ms. Ebadi, who was a judge previously in Iran and may have particular knowledge as well—whether there could be an undertaking to provide this committee with lists of those individuals who have been identified, for the public record of the committee and for consideration of recommending targeted Magnitsky sanctions against those individuals.
Thank you.
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