In 2006 Huseyin, Kamila and their three boys decide now that they are Canadian citizens to travel on Canadian passports to Uzbekistan, with temporary travel permits obtained from Uzbekistan, to visit Kamila’s family. While there one of their boys falls ill. Huseyin decides, in accordance with proper regulations, to renew that travel visa. When he goes to the appropriate authorities in Uzbekistan to renew that on his Canadian passport he’s red-flagged because Uzbekistan and China, unknown to Huseyin at the time, have a treaty. They’re part of the Shanghai besh, seven countries that share information on political dissidents.
Huseyin, on March 27, is detained in Uzbekistan. There’s a period of about 90 days when he’s in Uzbekistan, and people in Canada and on the ground are trying to determine what to do. The Uyghur community in Canada is loud and clear, as are we to the Canadian government, that this is the moment to get Huseyin out. It’s China that wishes to obtain him. Ultimately, Uzbekistan transfers Huseyin to China in or around July 2006. He faces a trial. He is sentenced to death, and ultimately through the interventions of the minister of foreign affairs at the time, Peter MacKay, that death sentence is commuted to a life sentence.
The Canadian government has never had consular access to Huseyin Celil. Kamila and the family had updates from Huseyin’s family in northwestern China up until 2016 when all went dark. We haven’t had any word from Huseyin’s family there. We’ve never had direct communication with him. This is really a long-standing Canadian tragedy where we have a Canadian citizen detained in China, who didn’t travel to China on a Canadian passport, or at all. He went to neighbouring Uzbekistan as a Canadian citizen to visit his in-laws. There, and this is where we have a case of rendition, Huseyin was ultimately transported by the Uzbeks to China, or the Chinese came into Uzbekistan and picked him up and transported him there.
The trial was had. At the time, then prime minister Harper ordered the embassy staff out of Beijing to go to the courtroom and wait every day to find out when there would be a trial and try to gain access. They ultimately were never allowed in to hear the trial. An appeal was taken.
That’s been the long and unnecessary saga of Huseyin’s case.
We’ve always asked, and I’m going to ask again, for two things. One is that the Prime Minister appoint a special envoy specifically tasked with seeking the release and return of Huseyin Celil. We want a special envoy, as opposed to the embassy and the ambassador, because the single task of the envoy will be to seek the release and return of Mr. Celil, figure out what needs to be done to make that happen. It’s been 14 long years.
As for Kamila, I’m not sure if we have her in the room at the moment, but we’ll now go into additional details about the challenges she’s faced with her four young children. The four boys, Hussein’s children, Kamila’s children, haven’t seen their father in 14 years. One, Zubeyir, was actually born after his father’s detention. This is a Canadian tragedy. It’s been long languishing. When the crackdown on the Uyghur community in northwestern China commenced, we already had no consular access. We’ve now had absolutely zero information since 2016 on his state and his situation.
Number one, a special envoy should be appointed by the Prime Minister seeking Huseyin Celil’s release and return. The second would be that we have all-party co-operation in this regard. I recall when the Conservatives were in power, Minister MacKay commuted the sentence from death to a life sentence. Member of Parliament Sweet and member of Parliament Kenney were two active Conservatives at the time. Member of Parliament Gould has also been active, but we haven’t had non-partisan action where all members of the House in unanimity are all rowing in the same direction.”