Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.
I have been in this place for 19 years, and rarely have I been more disturbed than by what I have heard from the government benches on this matter today.
What we are seeking through the motion is very simply a recognition of the reality that the indigenous ethnic and religious minorities of Mesopotamia are the victims of an ongoing genocide at the hands of a barbaric terrorist organization.
This is not really a matter for debate, because the organization in question, Daesh, in English the so-called Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, admits openly, brags proudly, that it is engaged in genocide. Part of its doctrine is the destruction of those it deems to be apostates in the areas under its control, its so-called caliphate.
Since when do we question the reality of a genocide when the very perpetrators admit it? It is almost like admitting a redundancy. This is the doctrine of Daesh, to create a caliphate, on the basis of a particularly violent 7th century conception of Sharia law, to impose that violent Koranic law on all who fall within the sovereign territory of that ersatz caliphate. If those people are deemed to be apostates, like the Yazidi people, they are marked for death, torture, or slavery. If they are deemed merely to be infidels, they are marked for dhimmitude, which, as expressed in the particularly perverse version of Sharia of Daesh, means, effectively, slavery. The women and girls who fall within the custody of Daesh are not considered human beings. They are considered property to be bought and sold, traded, and raped.
The factual basis of this is not in doubt.
Nearly all organizations and experts on genocide have stated that what is happening right now in Iraq and Syria at the hands of Daesh constitutes genocide. Father Patrick Desbois, a French Jesuit priest and expert who uncovered thousands of mass graves of Jewish victims of the genocide in eastern Europe and wrote about it in his book, The Holocaust by Bullets, is in Iraq right now doing research. He has stated that there is no question that there is a genocide happening there right now.
We have heard the Liberal members repeat this canard. There are unparliamentary words I am not allowed to use to characterize it. It is a completely misleading, specious notion that there is some established international legal procedure whereby committees meet and determine whether there is genocide. There is no such procedure.
I encourage the Liberal members reading the canned speeches written by the political staff in the Minister of Foreign Affairs' office to actually cite what procedure they are referring to. It does not exist.
I have right in front of me the 1948 convention on genocide. It does not speak of such a process. This document, drafted by Raphael Lemkin, defines genocide as committing “...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:”
I was the co-sponsor of a motion in this place, in 2004, to recognize the historical reality of the Armenian genocide, which is recognized as such by the overwhelming majority of genocide scholars and of course is supported by the facts. It has never, however, gone through some international legal tribunal.
However, let me remind the Liberals of another shame that will always hang over the heads of the Liberal Party. The position of the Martin government in 2004, the position of the cabinet of the Liberal government then, was to vote against recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide. The Liberals denied the first genocide of the 20th century, just as they are denying this genocide today.
I accuse the government of denying the basic facts for one clear reason: it does not want to fight a genocidal regime. That is why it is denying history. Quite frankly, the reason the Liberal government denied the Armenian genocide in 2004 was that it did not want to upset Turkish diplomats.
When genocide happens, governments must not allow themselves to be swayed by diplomatic or political considerations. They must recognize the truth.
We are happy to have here in Ottawa, members of the Yazidi community who are friends of mine, members of the Assyrian community, members of the Chaldean community, and members of the Armenian community. They are pleading with this place to recognize this genocide. They know what is happening and they expect Canada to speak the truth.
Not only is the current government making things up from home cloth about some imagined, non-existent international process for the recognition of genocide, which has never before been referred to by this Parliament in the recognition of five genocides in the past, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs is making up the notion that Secretary of State Kerry of the United States did not actually recognize the genocide. The minister said in this place that Secretary Kerry said it requires more study.
I have before me the March 16 statement of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was responding to a unanimous vote of the United States House of Representatives in this regard when he said, on behalf of the Government of the United States:
My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that, in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions—in what it says, what it believes, and what it does.
We call on the Government of Canada to do what the Government of the United States has done in recognizing that same genocide, because we are talking about the most vulnerable.
The Yazidis, the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, and the Armenians are indigenous people. The current government just signed a convention about the rights of indigenous people. We have indigenous people who were there long before Islam, long before any self-styled caliphate. Long before people spoke Arabic in that region, they were speaking their own languages and worshipping in their own religions. This is not the first genocide that they have faced. The Yazidis and the Assyrians faced genocide as well back in 1915 and before then.
Let us be clear. There is only one reason why the current government is denying the motion, as it did against the recognition of the Armenian genocide in 2004. That is because its recognition would compel the government morally to engage in the international combat mission to degrade and destroy ISIL.
I mentioned Father Patrick Desbois, the world's greatest living genocide scholar. In closing, when asked by CBS about this and how you stop the machine, he said that it can be only stopped militarily and that is how we stopped Hitler. CBS said, “You had to defeat him on the battlefield”. Father Desbois said, “In one way or another”, and to kill the idea and to “kill the people who carry” the idea of genocide.
Our government was doing that in the combat mission. Let us recognize the motion and let us stand by the indigenous peoples of Mesopotamia to protect them from this genocide.