Tuesday, July 18, 2006

NDP calls for diplomatic delegation to secure Celil's release from China

OTTAWA –NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Alexa McDonough (Halifax) and NDP Human Rights Critic Wayne Marston (Hamilton - Stoney Creek) are calling on the Harper government to take immediate action to secure the release from China of Canadian citizen, Huseynin Celil.

“Canada must immediately intervene and provide a diplomatic show of force to ensure that Mr. Celil is released without further delay,” said McDonough. “Mr. Harper must immediately send his Parliamentary Secretary, Jason Kenney, to China to signal that Canada takes this case very seriously.”

“Mr. Kenney has previously signalled his willingness to go to China. If Canada is to succeed, Mr. Kenney must be part of a formal delegation that includes high-level diplomatic officials,” said Marston.

The Uzbekistan government had detained Mr. Celil since March but according to media reports, he was handed over to China sometime in the past two weeks after receiving assurances he would not face the death penalty there. Mr. Celil faces the death sentence in China after being tried in absentia for his work on behalf of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs and other government officials have repeatedly refused to comment on the grounds of ‘privacy’ except to say they are doing all they can,” said Marston. “A Canadian citizen has been deported to a country known to execute and torture prisoners. This is more than an issue of privacy. A Canadian citizen’s life is at stake, and it is clear that every possible avenue must be pursued to secure his release.

“We must immediately send a delegation to send the message: Canada will not stand aside while our citizens are deported and subjected to torture or worse, abroad.”