That's regrettable that there was a one-year delay in that letter. Obviously, I think the Canadian government needs to be concerned about the totality and entirety of what's happening in Turkey right now, but there is a particular extra dimension when it comes to Canadians who are ensnared in that situation.
Aside from the letter, I do know, as I said, that at the level of the parliamentary secretary there was quite a bit of attention being paid to those cases. I think we have been lacking more senior-level engagement. Perhaps the delay in that letter reflects that. I think it's really important that this start to become much more regularly on the minister's agenda and the Prime Minister's agenda as well.
In terms of pressure points open to Canada, certainly one is that Canada needs to speak out more. There have been a few very mild statements of concern. There have been occasional tweets that have gone out. But you would be hard pressed to find, if you really wanted to go back and get a clear sense as to what Canada has been saying publicly about the situation in Turkey over these last 20-plus months, anything particularly persuasive or impressive; you would have great difficulty in finding it. That's part of the kind of pressure that's needed here, I think.
What I would add to that, though, is the importance of a multilateral strategy around that. As I said in my remarks, Turkey really is getting a free ride, not just by Canada but by the world. There are some countries that have more persuasion and influence with Turkey than Canada does, most certainly, the EU being an obvious one. But countries elsewhere around the world, with whom Canada may have important relationships, may be key players here as well. If Canada is going to take the situation in Turkey seriously, I think it's developing that kind of multilateral joint strategy, which thinks about, then, how not to waste an opportunity, as we just did, like the UN Human Rights Council, and make sure there's a concerted effort among the number of countries to use that.
I could not agree more that the situation across the border in northern Syria, in Afrin, is a very, very serious concern. Amnesty has been following it and has issued a number of statements of concern. Our focus to date has primarily been with respect to very serious civilian casualties, by what we're concerned appears to be indiscriminate bombing and shelling. I don't have the time to go through them, but there are heartbreaking testimonies we've received from survivors of some of those families. For a variety of reasons, they had been led to believe by Turkish officials that their area was going to be safe or that civilian areas were not going to be bombed and then lo and behold their house was attacked when it was nowhere near any kind of military target.
It's becoming clear to us that there absolutely are some very serious violations of international law in how Turkey is carrying out that military campaign. It doesn't come as a surprise, because we know there are decades of concern about how Turkish forces have handled operations against Kurdish villages and Kurdish areas within Turkey as well, so why would it be any different across the border?
We'll continue to speak out, but I think that's another area where nations like Canada need to more clearly go on the record.