Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this morning on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois to mark this 7th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989, when thousands of students fell victim to the brutal repression of the Chinese regime, which savagely put down their democratic movement.
As I said yesterday in this House, this great democratic movement had raised a great deal of hope, and yet today we are compelled to note that the situation in China is far from improved. Thousands of Chinese are still victims of repression and their rights are constantly being trampled.
I was somewhat amazed to hear the Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific's review of the so-called efforts of his government to bring the Chinese leaders to respect human rights. We need only recall the Prime Minister of Canada's response here in this very House on March 22, 1994, when the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bouchard, asked him to act to protect human rights in China. The Prime Minister replied: "If I told the President of China, who represents 1.2 billion people, that the Prime Minister of Canada was telling him what to do, he would laugh in my face". So much for what the leader of the Government of Canada thinks of the importance of human rights.
What the secretary of state has said is barely credible, and the government's position is no more so, when it comes to the pillars upon which Canada's long term relationship with China rests, the fourth in particular: human rights, good governance and the rule of law. Quite a pillar. How could such a close link be made between good governance and the promotion of human rights? That takes some doing.
In his statement on June 9, 1994 here in this House, the secretary of state reserved his fourth pillar for human rights and the rule of law. In 1996, he is adding good governance. What will be added in 1997, I wonder. Concretely, all that the secretary of state sees fit to say is that, bilaterally, Canada is continuing a constructive dialogue on the question of human rights, while on the multilateral level, it is voicing its concerns. Quite an agenda, that.
Even more surprising in the statement by the secretary of state is what he said after reporting that he raised the question of human rights with Chinese officials. He said that Chinese officials, we are not sure which ones exactly, apparently gave assurances for the first time it seems that the 100,000 Canadian nationals in Hong Kong will retain their right to permanent residence following the hand over in 1997.
As late as yesterday, one of the Hong Kong papers mentioned a plan for the evacuation of Canadian nationals in the event of a crisis. It provided for their removal by air and by sea. I was also surprised to hear the secretary of state say that human rights had substantially, and nothing less than substantially, improved in the daily life of the Chinese since 1989. I do not know where the secretary of state's information comes from, but I would question it.
Amnesty International's official reports paint a very different picture. Perhaps the secretary of state is prepared to contest their validity. From them we learn instead that hundreds of political dissidents and members of certain religious and ethnic groups are victims of arbitrary arrests and that many of them, including prisoners of conscience, are being held without charge or sentence or are condemned to prison terms at the end of unfair trials.
Thousands of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience arrested a number of years ago remain incarcerated. Torture and poor treatment of prisoners are commonplace. At least 2,496 death sentences and 1,791 executions have been reported. This is a very brief summary of the situation in China in 1995, according to Amnesty International.
I will close on an equally sombre note, in my opinion. The government's petty approach, a break with longstanding tradition, considerably undermines Canada's credibility abroad in promoting respect for human rights. Practically no country anymore gives any credibility to the words of the present government on this matter. The best example I have of this may be found in the treatment recently given Tran Trieu Quan by the Vietnamese government. He now has his feet chained every day from 3 p.m. until the following morning.
All the Canadian government could muster in this matter was a slightly more strongly worded letter, according to a spokesperson for foreign affairs. This is shameful. The only real human rights spokesperson internationally is Craig Kielburger, a young man 14
years of age from Toronto, who condemns the bad treatment given a number of different groups in the world.
We therefore take this opportunity today to condemn the Canadian government whose foreign affairs practices are dictated by a human rights policy that is soft, insignificant and likely to precipitate human rights violations.