A joint letter signed by 62 MPs, four senators, a former House of Commons speaker, and more than 20 community groups is calling on Canada to impose Magnitsky sanctions against Beijing and Hong Kong officials over human rights atrocities.
Initiated by Alliance Canada Hong Kong (ACHK), the letter asks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his deputy Chrystia Freeland, and Global Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials “directly responsible for the human rights atrocities happening in Tibet, occupied East Turkestan (Xinjiang), and Hong Kong.”
“Canada needs to take a strong stance against blatant human rights atrocities and coordinate a multilateral effort amongst countries with shared values to reclaim our leadership on the Global stage,” the letter says.
The letter quotes one of Champagne’s tweets from earlier this month: “Sanctions are an important tool to hold perpetrators of gross human rights violations to account.”
ACHK provided a list to the government of six Chinese Communist Party officials they want sanctioned for “human right abuses and state violence in China and Hong Kong.”
Almost half the Conservative caucus signed the letter, including Leona Alleslev, who resigned as deputy leader on July 13, as well as three MPs from the Green Party and two from Bloc Québécois.
Liberal MP Judy Sgro and NDP MP Jenny Kwan also signed, along with Conservative senators Leo Housakos and Linda Frum; Independent senator Marilou McPhedran; Progressive senator Pierre Dalphond; former House of Commons speaker Peter Milliken; and former Liberal finance minister John McKay. Brad West from Port Coquitlam is the only mayor among the signatories.
On June 23, more than a dozen senators sent a similar letter to Trudeau calling on the federal government to take a stand against Beijing and impose sanctions on Chinese officials for “gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Citing China’s crackdown on democratic rights in Hong Kong, detention of Uighur Muslims, decades-long repression of Tibet, and its imprisonment of Canadians, the senators describe the Chinese communist regime as the “biggest threat to mankind and a danger to international security.”
Sen. Leo Housakos and fellow Conservative Sen. Thanh Hai Ngo are also seeking Magnitsky sanctions. In December 2019 they tabled a motion calling for Ottawa to use the Magnitsky law to sanction Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses in Hong Kong and mainland China.
Housakos criticized Ottawa’s performance on China, saying the government has been “slapped around” but has not taken appropriate action in response.
“They seem to be appeasing and kowtowing to China’s brutal behaviour,” he said in an interview at the time.
Falun Gong adherents are among the groups that have been persecuted most brutally by the Chinese communist regime in the last 20 years, according to Li Xun, president of the Falun Dafa Association of Canada.
“In Canada, Falun Gong practitioners have been the first to urge the Canadian government to sanction Chinese officials accountable for the persecution,” he told The Epoch Times.
Li submitted a list of 14-names of Chinese officials responsible for gross human rights abuses to then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland on Dec 12, 2018, accompanied by a letter calling on the government to sanction these human rights violators under the Magnitksy law.
The fact that Canada has a Magnitsky law is thanks to Conservative MP James Bezan, who had long championed Canada having its own version of the law. His efforts finally came to fruition in late 2017 when Parliament passed the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act into law. The legislation imposes sanctions on individuals who perpetrate human rights violations in other countries, such as banning their entry into Canada or engaging in financial transactions with Canadians.
Bezan says the Magnitsky law should be used to hold those who persecute Falun Gong adherents to account.
“We stand in solidarity with [Falun Gong adherents] that are still in China,” he said in a previous interview.
“For those … who have been able to escape the communist regime in Beijing [but] have family and friends and loved ones back in mainland China, we stand with [them] as well and we will stand in the battle against oppression.”
On July 9, four Chinese officials in Xinjiang were sanctioned for human rights abuses by the U.S. administration under the Global Magnitsky Act. The sanctions bar the officials, as well as their immediate family members, from entering the United States. The sanctions also block U.S. properties that are under the individuals’ names and prohibit U.S. transactions with them, the U.S. Treasury Department said.
Three days earlier, Britain announced economic sanctions against individuals and organizations from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, and North Korea under new U.K. powers to punish human rights offenders.