Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address the issue that has been brought forward by the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
Huseyin Celil is a Canadian citizen, point final. As the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have consistently stated, the government continues to be seized at all levels by cases of Canadians detained in China, including the long-standing case of Mr. Celil. Mr. Celil has been in detention in Xinjiang since 2006.
The provision of consular services to Canadians in China is governed by a bilateral agreement that details consular obligations and entitlements of our two countries in order to facilitate the protection of the rights and interests of our citizens. While China has agreed to provide consular access to Canadians who entered China on a Canadian travel document, China has not granted Canadian officials consular access in cases where China does not recognize the individual's Canadian citizenship.
In the case of Mr. Celil, despite repeated and ongoing attempts, Canadian officials have not been granted consular access. The government is deeply concerned about the case of Mr. Celil and will continue to raise his case at every opportunity at senior levels, frankly, as I did myself last spring when I travelled to China on a trip of the China-Canada legislative committee, on which the Conservatives chose not to go.
The government continues to be deeply concerned. Canadian officials will continue to advocate for Mr. Celil and seek consular access to him in order that they can verify his health and well-being and to offer him assistance.
It is very well known to us that Mr. Celil is of Uighur ethnicity. Canada is deeply concerned, and any insinuation to the contrary is simply false. Canada remains deeply concerned by the mass detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang, based on their ethnicity and religion under the pretext of countering extremism.
We acknowledge the pain and hardship experienced by Mr. Celil's family as a result of his detention. Consular officials are in communication with Mr. Celil's family and will continue to provide support until they are reunited.
Uighurs have been disappearing into detention in China. Getting information about their whereabouts can be incredibly challenging. Publicly and privately, in multilateral fora as well as in bilateral conversations, Canada has consistently called on the Chinese government to address the situation.
Canada has called on the Chinese government to allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Special Procedures immediate, unfettered, meaningful access to Xinjiang.
Finally, I would like to extend thanks to all consular officials working in Ottawa and in our missions abroad, offering and attempting to offer consular services. I have personally been extremely impressed and moved by the commitment they have to their work, which is the best in terms of public service I have ever seen.
Our government will always stand up for Canadians in need of assistance abroad. Mr. Celil will remain in our hearts at all times.