Canadian civil society organizations kicked off a national campaign in Toronto urging the Trudeau government to use Canada’s Magnitsky Law to sanction key Chinese officials involved in suppressing human rights in Hong Kong, East Turkestan, Tibetan regions in China and beyond.
“It is of vital importance for the international community to speak up on this, not just to show the solidarity to all of the people under suppression — it is also to secure 300,000 Canadians living and working in Hong Kong,” said Gloria Fung, president of Canada Hong Kong Link.
“It’s also about Canadian security interests and also the core values that we all cherish.”
A rally was held at the North York Civic Centre and included a Magnitsky Law expert and leaders from Hong Kong, Uyghur and Tibetan-Canadian communities, many of whom have family impacted by the human rights violations.
“It is almost like a psychological collapse, not only for me but for all Uighurs because you don’t know if your mother is alive or dead,” explains Mehmet Tohi, a Uighur-Canadian activist who hasn’t seen or heard from more than 30-family members living abroad.
In 2017, Magnitsky’s Law came into effect. The law holds global human rights abusers accountable for their actions in an effort to deter such behavior by imposing sanctions that would impact finances, business and travel.
“Human rights are things that we uphold, they are in our interests as Canadians,” explains lawyer Marcuz Kolgar, who works for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy.
“When we do place those sanctions, we need to make sure that those individuals, officials, human rights abusers, don’t have money here, and if they have it we need to seize it and if they try to travel here we need to stop them from doing that.”
About 300,000 Canadian’s live, work or are learning in Hong Kong. The federal government has said it’s working with the international community to ensure the safety of Canadian’s.