That the House agree that ISIS is responsible for: (a) crimes against humanity aimed at groups such as Christians, Yezidis, and Shia Muslims, as well as other religious and ethnic minorities in Syria a nd Iraq; (b) utilizing rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war and enslaving women and girls; and (c) targeting gays and lesbians who have been tortured and murdered; and, as a consequence, that the House strongly condemn these atrocities and declare that these crimes constitute genocide.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to the Conservative motion calling on this House to recognize the actions of ISIS as genocide.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Thornhill, who has for many years been an advocate for human rights.
As we all know, this past Monday marked the 72nd anniversary of D-Day and the allied landing at Normandy. Every year on June 6, we take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of the Canadian troops, generations past, all in the name of stopping a tyrannical and bloodthirsty regime.
World War II saw the rise of fascism and anti-Semitism across much of the western world. Our troops fought valiantly for Canada, but they also fought to put an end to the horrors that were being inflicted across Europe by the Nazi regime through the Holocaust.
It was a campaign of genocide and is rightly recognized as such. Since that time, Canada and our allies have made a solemn commitment to never forget, and we recommit ourselves to that promise every year.
A commitment to remember also requires a commitment to act. Let there be no mistake: there is a need to act once more now. The terrorist group ISIS continues to leave a trail of destruction across an already unstable Middle East, and thousands of innocent lives have paid the price.
It is sometimes easy to forget how real the ISIS threat is, protected as we are here in Canada where we enjoy relative peace and prosperity.
Yet as we speak, the brutal, jihadist terrorist regime known as ISIS is systematically exterminating Christians, Assyrians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims, and countless other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq. They have tortured and beheaded children. They have raped women and sold them into sexual slavery.
There is a word for this kind of deliberate slaughter of specific groups of innocent people. It is genocide.
This campaign of genocide is waged against some of the most ancient and most venerable peoples of the world, many of whom can trace their heritage well into antiquity.
They have for many years lived as small, defenceless minorities; in fact, for centuries. They have faced prejudice and persecution before, but the strength of their faiths and communities kept them together in their historic homelands. Against the vicious onslaught of ISIS, however, they must leave or face enslavement and certain death.
Stories coming out of Iraq are chilling. ISIS has set up so-called sex-slave markets where girls literally have their teeth checked before being sold on the market. We just heard this week about another 19 Yazidi girls who were burned alive because they refused to become sex slaves.
The girls are regularly beaten, whipped, burned, and raped. This is both disturbing and heartbreaking. In 2016, it cannot be tolerated.
Not only is ISIS committing unspeakable crimes against humanity, it has deliberately destroyed dozens of ancient churches, mosques, temples, and monasteries, looting the artifacts within them for sale on the black market.
Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, has called this despicable vandalism “cultural cleansing”. It is an attempt to erase these communities from history by demolishing the most cherished symbols of their past.
ISIS has a simple goal: to create a new reality in its image across the Middle East and to wage war against the west, including Canada. Yet, under the current government, Canada has only been committed to half-measures.
The previous Conservative government was part of an allied effort to bring the fight to ISIS through an effective and forceful air strike campaign, halting its progress and severely depleting its resources. Sadly, under the current government, that effort was withdrawn. Canadians are still looking for an explanation as to why.
We can strengthen Canada’s response to this terrible threat being visited upon innocent men, women and children by calling ISIS’ actions what they truly are: an act of genocide.
Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs has avoided calling these actions genocide. He has said in the House of Commons that he wants to investigate whether a genocide has taken place. I do not know what more he needs to see.
While the minister stalls, our allies are moving forward.
In the U.S., the Secretary of State John Kerry has said, clearly, that ISIS is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control. In fact, on March 15, the United States House of Representatives unanimously declared that genocide was taking place in Iraq and Syria by ISIS.
The House of Commons in the United Kingdom also has followed suit and voted unanimously to recognize that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria were suffering genocide at the hands of ISIS.
The European Union has also declared this a genocide.
Even the United Nations has made its voice heard. UN investigators have accused ISIS of committing genocide. Their evidence clearly suggests that ISIS intends to destroy the Yazidi as a group.
In just one example, the UN found that ISIS fighters rounded up hundreds of Yazidi men over age the age of 14 and summarily executed them.
The previous Conservative government also recognized the actions of ISIS as genocide.
Let us be absolutely clear. It is a dark spot on Canada's record that the Prime Minister and his government cannot gather the moral courage to name the threat that has driven families from their homes, seen women and girls sold into sexual slavery, or murdered outright, and forced thousands of innocent people into refugee camps.
Yet, the other side of the House remains silent on this issue. It remains silent, in particular, on the case of the persecution of young Yazidi girls who have been subjected to horrifying campaigns of sexual abuse and slavery. Despite all the government's photo ops and press conferences, it forgets to mention that only nine cases of Yazidi families have been processed since Canada' refugee plan was put in place. Only those few Yazidis have found safe haven in Canada, while many thousands more remain at risk of ISIS brutality. Its silence is just as bewildering to Canadians and as insulting to our allies as the Prime Minister's unjustified decision to withdraw Canada's fighter jets from the air campaign.
With no explanation coming, we are only left to conclude that the Prime Minister's inaction is in fact a political moneuvre, not one of principle.
There are times when we must call things as they are. Today, we are witnessing an ongoing campaign to wipe these ancient nations from the face of the Earth. There is no more fitting description for these terrible acts than the declare them genocide.
Having made this declaration, I invite all members of the House to reflect on what must be done to stop this genocide and whether Canada is doing its utmost to this end.
Now is the time for all 338 members of the House of Commons to stand up and be counted on, including the members opposite.
I ask them to do the right thing and vote in favour of this motion, and declare this a genocide.