Thursday, November 8, 2007

Help Canadians detained abroad


Nov 06, 2007 04:30 AM

In a nation like Canada with so many communities from every corner of the world, it is not unusual for some of our citizens to find themselves caught in the global terror-fighting dragnet.

Some Canadians, such as myself, hail from the very places that today are theatres of operations in the war on terror: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Lebanon. Others, who were born here, may share a common name or culture with those perceived to be targets of the global-war-on-terror machinery.

Yet when a Canadian citizen is detained by any authority – be it one with a dubious human rights record such as Ethiopia or one with a superficially stellar one like the United States under the current administration – it is disheartening not to have any public debate on the treatment of our citizens. All we hear are allegations and innuendo from anonymous Canadian security intelligence officers.

There appears to be no coherent public policy on how to deal with those who detain or render to a third country our citizens under the pretext of the war on terror. Worse, there has been no visible concerted Canadian effort to demand timely consular access to Canadians detained abroad.

If there were such a policy and concerted Canadian effort, Maher Arar probably would not have been deported to Syria by the U.S. in 2002; Huseyin Celil would not have been rendered by Uzbekistan in 2006 and put on a sham terror trial in China while our government pontificated through the press; and Bashir Makhtal would not have been held in an Ethiopian prison since January with no Canadian consular access, let alone help from our "new" government.

Contrary to our laws and public pronouncements from the Department of Foreign Affairs, it appears there is a presumption of guilt until our detained citizens prove their innocence. How else can any sane person explain the continued detention of Makhtal, who is not even listed in the official records of the very prison where he has been held for the past 10 months?

If Addis Ababa thinks Makhtal is guilty of something, why is Canada not able to prevail on Ethiopia, a nation that receives our development aid, to go ahead and prosecute him rather that allowing the Ethiopian authorities to keep him in indefinite detention?

Blaming the plight of Arar on the former Liberal government while doing very little to help detained Canadians like Makhtal and Celil is neither acceptable nor is it an option. Canada needs to come up with a coherent policy that calls those who render our citizens to account and puts all of our resources at the service of the detained. And no matter which policy we want to adopt as a nation when it comes to the detention and treatment of our citizens abroad, it is paramount that we have public discussions beforehand.

Rather than allowing our intelligence community to determine the discourse for the plight of rendered and detained Canadians through allegations possibly supplied by the very governments that are holding our citizens, it is necessary to establish a policy that upholds the rights of all Canadians.

The media should take an active role in educating the general public about the difficulty our citizens can find themselves in abroad or even inside Canada in the context of the war on terror. The public should not feel indifferent to the predicament of our fellow citizens.

In previous years it was William Sampson and Arar who found themselves detained abroad. Today it is Celil and Makhtal, and perhaps others whose names might not yet have graced the front pages of our newspapers, who are in detention and receiving very little help from the Canadian government.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

NEWS CONFERENCE IN OTTOWA APR 26

PRESS

Kamila Telendibaeva, the wife of Huseyin Celil, listens during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 26, 2007. China jailed Celil, a Uighur-Canadian, for life last week for separatism and terrorism and warned Canada not to get involved even as Ottawa said it would send its foreign minister to discuss the case. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (CANADA)

Reuters via Yahoo! News - Apr 26 1:49 PM

Kamila Telendibaeva, wife of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen being held in a prison and serving a life sentence in a Chinese prison holds a news conference on behalf her husband, Thursday April 26, 2007 in Ottawa, Canada. Canada has no right to interfere in the case of a Canadian Muslim activist sentenced this month to life in prison in China for alleged terror links, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Thursday. (AP Photo/CP, Fred Chartrand)

AP via Yahoo! News - Apr 26 11:30 AM

A spokesman for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minster Peter MacKay, seen here in 2006, said it would closely scrutinize the case of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian national sentenced in China to life in prison on terrorism and separatism charges.(AFP/File/Karen Bleier)

AFP/File via Yahoo! News - Apr 19 8:40 AM

MacKay to raise Celil's case in Beijing


Last Updated: Sunday, April 29, 2007 | 8:48 AM ET

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay says now is the "ideal time" for Canada and China to renew discussions on "a whole range of issues," including the case of jailed human rights activist Huseyin Celil.

MacKay, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a three-day visit, says he will raise Celil's case when he meets with China's new foreign minister on Monday.

Huseyin Celil is is shown with one of his children in a family photo.Huseyin Celil is is shown with one of his children in a family photo.
(CBC)

Celil is a Canadian who was sentenced to life in prison in China last week on a number of charges, including participating in a terrorist group.

China does not recognized Celil's Canadian citizenship, but MacKay said on Sunday that Canada "remains very committed" to him and "in particular in maintaining his Canadian citizenship."

MacKay is also expected to discuss with Chinese officials commercial ties and climate change during his visit.

On April 26, his wife, Kamila Telendibaeva, held a news conference in Ottawa to urge the government to appoint a special envoy to try to win her husband's release.

Telendibaeva has been raising the couple's four children by herself for the last year at their home in Burlington, Ont.

Celil, who is originally from China, was arrested in Uzbekistan in March 2006 while visiting his wife's relatives, and was extradited to China on terrorism charges.

Earlier this month, a Chinese court found him guilty of giving money to the founder of a terrorist organization called Hezbollah in China's Guangdong province in 1997. The founder went on to purchase arms and train terrorists, the court said.

Celil, 38, denies the charges and says there was no evidence brought against him.

He came to Canada as a refugee in 2001 and in 2005 became a Canadian citizen. He fled China after being imprisoned for his ties to the Uighur ethnic minority, a Muslim group that has long claimed repression at the hands of the Chinese government.

Help free activist, Ottawa urged


Rights group, wife ask MacKay to act
Apr 27, 2007 04:30 AM

OTTAWA–The wife of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian human-rights activist jailed for life in China, is asking the federal government to do more to free him.

Kamila Telendibaeva yesterday urged Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay to raise her husband's case when he visits China next week – something MacKay has said he will do.

Telendibaeva joined with Amnesty International to also urge Canada to name a special envoy to lead and co-ordinate efforts to free the 37-year-old Celil.

Celil, a Muslim whose wife and four children live in Burlington, grew up in China but escaped to Canada in 2001 and became a citizen. He was arrested in Uzbekistan last year and deported to China where he was convicted of having terrorist links.

The Chinese foreign ministry, meantime, said Canada has no right to interfere in the case.

"It has no connection with Canada. We hope the Canadian side will not interfere with China's internal affairs under this pretext," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao in Beijing.

Canadian Press, AP and AFP

China and Canada: A year of frosty relations


Link

Updated Sat. Apr. 28 2007 7:10 AM ET

Mary Nersessian, CTV.ca News

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay embarks this week on his long-anticipated first-ever trip to China, a visit that could spell failure or fortune for bilateral relations.

Observers say MacKay is walking a fine line with China that could prove disastrous if he falters.

On one hand, the economic giant offers robust business prospects. On the other, China has warned renewed criticism could erode trust between the nations, and hurt trade relations.

The Tories are under mounting pressure to mend frayed relations with China, which began to unravel last year.

"It's extremely important that Peter Mackay is making this trip at this time, I think it signals something of a warmer approach by Ottawa," Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada Co-CEO Paul Evans told CTV.ca in a telephone interview from Vancouver.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to reject an invitation to visit Beijing and decline to send any senior ministers until later in the year was perceived as an affront, one that set the tone for a year of frosty relations.

MacKay left for his trip on Wednesday, heading first to Europe, where he will meet with NATO foreign ministers. He visits China April 29 to May 1.

MacKay is slated to "set priorities for productive co-operation between Canada and China" according to a press release issued from the Foreign Affairs department.

Human rights, commercial relations and broader issues, such as global warming, are also likely to be on the table for talks, Evans suspects.

But to him, "more important the content of the discussions is going to be that opportunity to build a relationship and to get a feel for the pace and dynamism of contemporary China," he said.

The foreign affairs minister is also to discuss the contentious case of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian Muslim activist recently sentenced to life in prison for alleged terror links.

Canada has been aggressively lobbying for his release, and his case is just one of a number of irritants in Canada-China relations since the Tories took power in January.

York University professor emeritus Bernie Frolic, a leading expert on Canada's relations with China, says the Conservative government's agenda has been to focus on human rights, a strategy that may have misfired.

"In the process of doing this, other parts of our relationship seem have to been somewhat neglected by the present government," he told CTV.ca.

Consequently, the focus on human rights has "resulted in a poor working relationship with the top levels of the Chinese state," said Frolic, who is writing a book on Canadian-Chinese relations.

"The point is that our prime minister hasn't gone to China, and none of our senior ministers went. Now, finally, our foreign affairs minister is going, and that's important because at last we're coming out of this dark age where everything was put on hold," he said.

MacKay is tasked with the duty of telling his Chinese counterparts that Canada won't stand for human rights infringement. But at the same time, he must remind the Chinese of their relationship with Canadians, Frolic said.

"We've got energy and raw materials that China wants, China has manufactured goods that we want -- we want to try to figure out how China can invest more in Canadian economy," Frolic said.

"We need to find a way to discuss this in a way that is not confrontational and remind them we've had a very good working relationship since 1970 and get it back on the right track. We can't ignore China," he said.

CTV.ca tracks the rocky relationship between China and Canada.

April 2006

The federal government is "concerned" that Chinese spies are stealing Canada's industrial and high-technology secrets, MacKay tells CTV.

In an exclusive interview with CTV later that month, China's ambassador to Canada Ambassador rejects claims that Chinese spies are stealing Canada's industrial and high-tech secrets.

Also that month, a decision to allow Chinese political dissident Lu Decheng to emigrate to Canada raises tensions between Beijing and Ottawa.

China imprisoned Lu for nine years after he defaced a portrait of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square with paint.

July 2006

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa dismisses a report by two prominent Canadian investigators that claims China has harvested the organs of Falun Gong prisoners.

Later that month, China complains to the Canadian government about its decision to bestow honorary citizenship on the Dalai Lama, saying the gesture could harm relations.

An official with the Chinese embassy in Ottawa says Beijing has voiced its disapproval to the prime minister, and demands that Ottawa continues to recognize Tibet as a part of China.

November 2006

Harper and Chinese officials trades jabs prior to a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit.

"I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide, and we do that, but I don't think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values -- our belief in democracy, freedom, human rights,'' Harper says. "They don't want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar.''

Harper makes the contentious remarks after the Chinese government abruptly cancels a private meeting between himself and China's President Hu Jintao.

The rhetoric from the Canadian prime minister prompts a Chinese backlash and a storm of protest from Canadian industries with interests in China.

January 2007

During a high-profile visit to China, International Trade Minister David Emerson signs two agreements with China

The first is a Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement that will boost collaborative research and development activities between the two countries in both the private and public sectors.

The second initiative is a signed Memorandum of Understanding that will open the door to co-operation on trade gateways and corridors between Canada and China.

February 2007

Tensions mount when Celil appears at the Urumqi Intermediate People's Court in Xinjiang's capital without a Canadian diplomat present, which violates his right as a Canadian citizen.

April 2007

Ahead of his trip to Beijing, MacKay argues that Ottawa can push its human rights agenda "with tact" while working on renewing the business relationship with China.

"I agree that the relationship with China needs some nurturing, as it would with any large, complex, multi-faceted relationship ...," MacKay tells The Globe and Mail.

Also in April, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issues a warning that Canada has no right to interfere in the case Celil.

"We believe the case is China's internal affair and in essence relates to anti-terrorism,'' says Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao at a regular news briefing. "It has no connection with Canada. We hope the Canadian side will not interfere with China's internal affairs under this pretext.''

'Send my husband home,' Celil's wife pleads


Ottawa should dispatch a special envoy to China to argue for imprisoned Canadian's release, spouse says

OTTAWA -- The wife of jailed human-rights activist Huseyin Celil urged the federal government yesterday to appoint a special envoy to try to win the Canadian man's release from a Chinese prison.

"I'm so worried. I feel for him," Kamila Telendibaeva said, describing concerns for her husband's safety after reports he may have been tortured.

At a news conference on Parliament Hill, Ms. Telendibaeva also appealed to Beijing to release Mr. Celil to Canada when Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay meets with Chinese officials next week.

"Send my husband home to me and our children," she said.

A special envoy could raise the political profile of the case and co-ordinate Canadian government efforts to bring the man home, according to Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada.

Many government departments and agencies have economic or other official dealings with China, he noted. They all need to raise concern about the Celil case "at every opportunity," he said.

Mr. Neve and Chris MacLeod, Mr. Celil's Canadian lawyer, said Ottawa and the International Olympic Committee need to remind Bejing authorities that China won a bid to host the Olympic Games on the understanding it would clean up its human rights record.

The IOC in particular should use its considerable influence with China to help get Mr. Celil released, they said.

When asked, Ms. Telendibaeva declined to comment on whether Canada should boycott the games if her husband is still imprisoned. That might be something to consider later, Mr. MacLeod suggested.

Mr. Celil, a member of Western China's Muslim Uyghur minority, escaped from prison in China in 2000, fleeing to Uzbekistan and Turkey before landing in Canada. He became a Canadian citizen in 2005.

Mr. Celil was arrested in Uzbekistan in March 27, 2006, while visiting his wife's relatives, and was extradited to China on terrorism charges.

On April 19, a Chinese court found him guilty of giving 80,000 yuan, or about $11,700, to the founder of a terrorist organization called Hezbollah in China's Guangdong province in 1997. The founder went on to purchase arms and train terrorists, the court said.

Why Celil doesn't stand a chance


By J. Michael Cole

Friday, Apr 27, 2007, Page 8

`Just as the promise of access to the Chinese market has allowed China to almost completely isolate Taiwan and Tibet, its attraction will ensure that rhetorical jousting aside, nothing will change and Celil, sadly, will not receive the assistance he is entitled to as a Canadian citizen.'


Huseyin Celil, a 38-year-old Chinese-born ethnic Uighur who fled to Canada in 2001 and then obtained Canadian citizenship in 2005, was sentenced on April 19 by a Chinese court to life imprisonment for the crimes of "separating China and ... organizing, leading and participating in terrorist groups [or] organizations."

Celil was first arrested in Uzbekistan and thence spirited to China, where he had been imprisoned for the past year before receiving his sentence.

Given that Celil has Canadian citizenship and in light of the Canadian government's awarding earlier this year of generous financial compensation to Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen of Syrian origin who in 2002 was deported from the US to Syria, where he was allegedly tortured, Celil's family would perhaps be right to hope that Ottawa will do its utmost to come to his assistance. After all, although it came ex post facto and after years of denial, Canadian authorities did come clean on the Arar case, setting a precedent in the international campaign against terrorism which aside from the awarding of reparations worth approximately US$10 million to Arar and an admission of guilt on the role government agencies played in his deportation, forced the chief of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police -- Canada's equivalent of the FBI, loosely put -- to step down.

Sadly for Celil and precedent notwithstanding, he is unlikely to receive much help from Ottawa -- or the rest of the international community, for that matter. And the reason is simple: China.

It is one thing for Canada to reprimand Syria on human rights for the very real possibility that individuals in its prison system are being badly treated, if not tortured. In fact, by launching a commission of inquiry into the matter of Arar's deportation and later on admitting that he had been wronged, Ottawa had chosen to side with one of its citizens not only against Syria but the US as well, which to this day refuses to grant him a chance to make his case in a US court and will not remove him from its long list of terror suspects. There is real cause for hope when a country goes to this length to defend one of its own, especially in the context of the campaign against terrorism and the inherent pressure from the US upon states to participate in the effort.

But hapless Celil has a tremendous handicap: China's economy and the lure it has, siren-song-like, on other countries. Statistics from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada show that Canada's total trade with China last year was close to C$42 billion (US$37.3 billion), while two-way trade with Syria for the same period was approximately C$72 million. China's GDP was estimated at US$2.225 trillion in 2005. Syria's was US$25.84 billion.

Given these statistics, as former Los Angeles Times Beijing bureau chief James Mann points out in his book The China Fantasy, in recent years states have refrained from saying, let alone doing, anything "provocative" that is likely to "anger" Beijing, as doing so could have implications on trade. Given the size of the Chinese market and its vaunted potential for growth, Canada is not immune to this pressure and despite its envious, albeit imperfect, human rights track record, it, too, allows money to trump human rights. It is one thing to "anger" Damascus and put bilateral trade at risk; it is quite another when it comes to China.

All of this means that Canadian authorities will likely limit themselves to the usual mild criticism, meant for domestic consumption, of China's detention of Celil. Following news of his life sentence, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he had "raised the issue" with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay, who will be visiting China on Sunday, said he would press the issue with Beijing.

Anyone remotely aware of China's human rights track record knows how effective "raising issues" with Beijing has been when it comes to the numerous dissidents it has locked up in its prisons.

This empty rhetoric, which reached its peak level when, in February, Harper said of the Celil matter: "I would point out to any Chinese official that just as a matter of fact, China had a huge trade surplus with this country, so it would be in the interest of the Chinese government to make sure any dealings on trade are fair and above board," will avail to nothing if it is not supported by concrete action -- sanctions, embassy recalls and the like -- as mere words are immediately met by Chinese officials telling foreign governments not to meddle in its "domestic affairs" and that insistence can only "strain relations" -- a song unfortunately repeated ad nauseum by the media.

Already, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao (劉建超) has threatened that Canadian criticism of China's human rights policies could jeopardize trade relations.

And the threats seem to have hit home.

Just one day after the announcement of Celil's sentence, Ottawa's rhetoric had already shown signs of softening. There were no longer questions of the injustice of the arrest, or the fact that Celil had been rendered from Uzbekistan (a country whose human rights record tellingly pales in comparison with China's) or, for that matter, of the absence of due process in his sentencing, including China's refusal to recognize his Canadian citizenship and, consequently, barring Canadian consular officials from getting in touch with him -- something even the Syrian government, a so-called state sponsor of terrorism, would not deny Arar, except on a few occasions. In one day, Canadian authorities had gone from opposing Celil's very detention to evaluating "allegations that Mr. Celil has been mistreated while in Chinese custody and possibly subjected to torture," to quote the Canadian foreign minister. In other words, Canada was no longer voicing direct opposition to the life sentence but rather to the possibility that he had been mistreated while in prison.

Harper was right when, back in February, he said that given China's C$9 billion trade surplus with Canada, it stood to lose much more from an interruption in the relationship than Canada does. Unfortunately, however, it isn't current numbers that have a real effect on how trade wags diplomacy, but rather expected future ones. Just as the promise of access to the Chinese market has allowed China to almost completely isolate Taiwan and Tibet, its attraction will ensure that rhetorical jousting aside, nothing will change and Celil, sadly, will not receive the assistance he is entitled to as a Canadian citizen.

MacKay will indeed "raise the issue" with his Chinese counterparts when he visits Beijing and for a few weeks politicians in Ottawa will make their sound bites by repeating that they will "stand tall for that citizen." In other words, Ottawa and Beijing will engage in the shadow play of a diplomatic spat; Canada will wax righteous and China will warn of dire consequences for the relationship. But gradually, the story will taper off into oblivion, just as will Celil.

J. Michael Cole is a writer based in Taipei.
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Imprisoned Canadian in Spotlight as MacKay Heads to China


Foreign Minister promises to stand up for Canadians 'in peril' in China

By Cindy Chan
The Epoch Times Ottawa Staff
Apr 27, 2007

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Mackay (Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images)
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Mackay (Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images)

When Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay visits China early next week, the plight of a Canadian citizen who was recently sentenced to life in prison in China under suspect conditions is sure to be on the agenda.

MacKay will first travel to Norway and Belgium for high-level meetings before arriving in China. Meetings with Chinese officials will include setting priorities on Canada-China "productive cooperation" in business, according to the official news release.

However, it's a safe bet that human rights will also be discussed, prompted in particular by a Chinese court's sentencing of Huseyincan Celil, a Uighur Muslim rights activist, on April 19 on charges of separatism and terrorism.

The Canadian government maintains there is no solid evidence for the charges against him. However, Chinese authorities refuse to recognize his Canadian citizenship and have continued to deny him Canadian consular assistance.

The issue has been a top item for the Canadian government in talks with the Chinese since Celil was deported to China from Uzbekistan in June 2006. He had been detained in Uzbekistan in March 2006, apparently at the insistence of Chinese authorities. The prime minister has raised his case personally.

In March, MacKay told The Epoch Times that the government would not stop raising cases like Celil's in the face of pressure from some groups worried about upsetting the Chinese.

"It's not about softening the tone; it's about being consistent and being forceful in our representations when it comes to Canadian citizens," MacKay said. "We take the approach where any Canadian that is abroad, that is in peril, that is in need, we'll be there for them."

Besides issuing a strongly worded statement protesting Celil's verdict, MacKay has assured Mr. Celil's wife, Kamila Telendibaeva, that "Canada will continue to pursue justice" for her husband.

Appeal for 15 Canadian Family Members

Other Canadians also impacted by human rights abuses in China raised their voice this week on the eve of MacKay's trip.

On Wednesday, four Chinese-Canadians spoke at a press conference at Parliament Hill outlining the persecution their family members have faced in China over their belief in Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that is brutally repressed in China by the ruling communist party.

Montreal resident Yao Lian said Falun Gong practitioners in China are "automatically labelled as 'criminals' or 'class enemies' by the regime and do not have any safety." Her husband Ma Jian was sentenced to forced labour for two and a half years on April 18.

Shen Yue appealed for help for his aunts jailed in Hebei province. His mother had earlier been imprisoned for two years during which time she was beaten with electric batons and "was forced to take of her clothes and stand outside," he recounted.

The Falun Dafa Association says there are at least 15 family members of Canadians currently imprisoned in China for their belief in Falun Gong.

According to United Nations Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak's 2006 report on torture cases in China, Falun Gong practitioners account for 66 per cent of victims of alleged torture while in government custody.

As well, a report released last year by former secretary of state David Kilgour and lawyer David Matas concludes that the Chinese authorities have been harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners detained in China for sale in a lucrative organ trade.

While some worry that raising such cases might upset the Chinese and hamper trade, the government said that both trade and human rights can be advanced at the same time.

Acknowledging the trade potential in China, MacKay told The Epoch Times that Canada "should be able to engage them in a respectful way, while at the same time raising in a frank and straightforward way our concerns visa-vis their human rights record."

"We're going to continue to espouse these values for human rights, respect for human rights, values of good governance, values of democracy—that's bedrock to our conservative party and our foreign policy," MacKay said.

Canada Evaluates Bilateral Dialogue

Meanwhile, after six months of studying the widely criticized Canada-China bilateral human rights dialogue, the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights is expected to soon release its report.

NDP Human Rights Critic Wayne Marston, a member of the subcommittee, told The Epoch Times that the subcommittee has "proposed some significant change which you will see in the report."

Among countries engaged in human rights dialogues with China, which include the U.S., U.K., Australia, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Japan, and others, Canada is the first to commission an assessment of the dialogue process.

Additional reporting by Jason Loftus

Amnesty urges Canada to send envoy to China


Last Updated 27/04/2007, 13:33:01
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Amnesty International has urged Canada to name a special envoy to seek the liberation of a Chinese-born Canadian sentenced to life in prison in China.

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, says it is vital to appoint a special envoy who would lead and coordinate Ottawa's efforts to free 37 year old Huseyin Celil.

China's announcement last week of the sentence against the ethnic Uighur on separatism and terrorism charges, during a closed trial, has sparked tensions between Ottawa and Beijing.

AFP reports that Celil's wife, Kamila Telendibaeva, says Celil was extradited from Uzbekistan to China during a trip in May 2006 where he vanished into Chinese custody.

Celil arrived in Canada in 2001 as a refugee after fleeing China, and became a Canadian citizen.

China tells Canada not to meddle

Local media is reporting that the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said that Canada has no right to interfere in the case of a Canadian muslim activist sentenced this month to life in prison in China, for alleged terror links.

Canada has been aggressively lobbying for his release and the dispute is expected to come up when Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay visits China at the end of the month.

Make Celil case 'urgent priority,' wife urges MacKay


Last Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2007 | 3:26 PM ET

The wife of a Canadian citizen imprisoned in China and Amnesty Canada are calling on the foreign affairs minister to make the case a key issue during his upcoming visit to China.

Kamila Telendibaeva, whose husband, Huseyin Celil, is serving a life sentence in a Chinese prison, held a news conference in Ottawa Thursday with her lawyer, Chris MacLeod, and Amnesty Canada secretary-general Alex Neve.

She called on Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay to make her husband's case an "urgent priority" during his visit to China.

Telendibaeva hasn't seen her husband since 2006, when he was arrested while visiting his wife's family in Uzbekistan. She lives in Burlington, Ont., with their four children.

A member of China's minority Muslim Uighurs, Celil, 38, was extradited to China to face charges laid in the early 1990s.

MacLeod called on MacKay, who begins a three-day visit to China Sunday, to request an investigation into Celil's treatment in China. He was denied access to Canadian consular officials and his family alleges he was tortured.

"It's an affront to Canada and it's something we'd ask Minister MacKay to push for," said MacLeod.

"He has a valuable opportunity to put the case at the top of the agenda, to raise it firmly and constructively. It's vital the minister make it ... clear Canada demands and expects unhindered consular access to him."

While MacKay has said he plans to raise the issue during his visit, China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday said Canada has no right to interfere in Celil's case.

Special envoy sought

MacLeod and Neve repeated their call for an independent, non-partisan special envoy to co-ordinate Canada's future response to the case.

The envoy could work within the many facets of the Canada-China relationship — economic, cultural, political — and not be confined to the "formality of legal provisions," said Neve.

MacLeod said China isn't recognizing its own nationalities law that states Chinese lose their citizenship when they become citizens of another country.

"China is sending a message to the Uighur diaspora, telling them 'you can't hide behind another citizenship,'" said MacLeod.

Celil was arrested in 1994 after setting up a political party for the Muslim Uighurs.

Chinese officials also alleged he helped assassinate a political leader in Kyrgyzstan. Celil's family and lawyer have denied that allegation.

Celil escaped prison and later applied for refugee status in 2001 in Turkey, eventually becoming a Canadian citizen and settling in Burlington.

Celil received a life sentence April 19 and has 10 days to appeal the sentence. He was convicted on the crimes of "separating China" and "organizing, leading and participating in terrorist groups, organizations."

Canada has expressed its concern with the sentence, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper raised Celil's case with China's president during a visit last November.

Celil's lawyer hides role


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

BEIJING — In a legal system shrouded in fear and intimidation, Huseyin Celil's new lawyer has told his clients to deny his involvement in the sensitive case because of potential retribution from Chinese authorities.

Mr. Celil, the Canadian religious leader sentenced to life imprisonment on terrorism allegations in China last week, decided yesterday to file a court appeal. But his lawyer is so worried about pressure from China's security forces that he has instructed Mr. Celil's family to keep his role secret.

The lawyer, Wei Rujiu, told The Globe and Mail this week that he is withdrawing from the case because of "strong pressure" from the Chinese authorities. But his client's wife, Kamila Celil, said Mr. Wei is quietly remaining on the case, while telling the family to conceal his role in the appeal.

His fears may be real. Hundreds of Chinese lawyers have been arrested in recent years and many have been beaten or sentenced to prison terms. Many have been charged with "perjury," a loosely defined term that is often used against a lawyer who frustrates a prosecutor's case.

China's legal system is heavily weighted in favour of the authorities. A recent report on more than six million court cases, covering the past eight years, found that 99.34 per cent of all defendants were found guilty. In an estimated 70 per cent of cases, the defendants are unable to hire lawyers to represent them at their trials.

"A lawyer has to have courage to handle criminal cases, especially these sensitive cases," prominent Beijing lawyer Mo Shaoping told a conference last year. "Many lawyers would rather not be involved in criminal cases. The risks are too big."

The case of Mr. Celil is one of the most sensitive in the country. The case has damaged relations between China and Canada, provoking sharp protests from the federal government because China refused to allow Canada to have consular access to its citizen. Amnesty International has voiced concern that Mr. Celil may have been convicted after an unfair trial and a confession extracted through torture. China, for its part, sees Mr. Celil as a separatist who was plotting independence for the Muslim region of Xinjiang, where China has been clamping down on activists for years.

Foreign Minister Peter MacKay is visiting Beijing next week and promises to raise the Celil case in his meetings with senior Chinese leaders.

Like many other sensitive cases, the Celil case has been pushed swiftly through the Chinese legal system, with little chance for a fair trial. He was not permitted access to Canadian diplomats or an independent lawyer. His trial was conducted behind closed doors and was completed in just five hours. His government-appointed lawyer said little to defend him.

For the appeal, Mrs. Celil and her Canadian lawyer, Chris MacLeod, decided to hire an independent Chinese lawyer. They found Mr. Wei, a well-respected lawyer in Beijing who has worked on civil-rights cases in the past. According to Mrs. Celil, he has already been paid $12,000 to handle the appeal.

In an interview last month, Mr. Wei confirmed that he had been hired by the Celil family, but was reluctant to discuss it. Last week, after the guilty verdict and life prison sentence, Mr. Wei was again reluctant to discuss the case because of its political sensitivity. He quoted a historian who had noted that every issue in the United States - including political issues - can become matters of law. In China, he said, "everything including legal issues can become matters of politics."

In an interview on Monday, he said he had decided not to take the Celil case. "I feel very strong pressure now," he said, refusing to elaborate.

Protest Celil imprisonment by boycotting retailers


By Mel Basbaum, Dundas
The Hamilton Spectator

(Apr 24, 2007)

Re: 'Life in prison for Celil; China claims Canadian conducted separatist and terrorist activities' (April 20)

Clearly our government will have no influence over the treatment of Huseyin Celil by the Chinese.

I recommend some form of boycott by Canadians. Boycotting Chinese goods is unlikely to have much effect since Canadians are such a small part of their export market.

As an alternative I would recommend a boycott of a large multinational retailer who profits from doing business with the Chinese, but also cares about their business in Canada.

I suggest starting with a company such as Wal-Mart. It markets Chinese products to Canadians and can bring pressure to bear on the Chinese government.

Other companies could be added later, including fast-food chains who profit from their outlets in China.



Respond to Celil situation with Olympic boycott


By Jeremy Woodley, Dundas
The Hamilton Spectator
(Apr 28, 2007)

Re: 'Protest Celil imprisonment by boycotting retailers' and 'Canada will continue to push for Celil, says minister' (both Letters, April 24)

Both of these letters responded to the life imprisonment of Canadian/Chinese citizen Huseyin Celil for "separatist activities" in the Uighur Autonomous Region of China.

Mel Basbaum, opining that our government will have no influence on the Chinese, suggests a boycott by Canadians of companies such as Wal-Mart which market Chinese products in Canada. While not wishing to discourage this proposal, I think many people of principle already avoid Wal-Mart (if they can afford to) because of its labour policies. But there is another possible strategy.

In his letter, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay stated that, "the government of Canada remains seriously concerned about the human rights situation in China." Given that, why does it not ask its athletes to boycott the 2008 Olympic Games?

There are many possible grounds for such action -- Celil, other imprisoned activists, alleged organ harvesting from detainees, the takeover of Tibet and suppression of Buddhism, Chinese support for Sudan over Darfur, excessive use of capital punishment. In all these cases, China will claim they are internal matters but they are incompatible with the Olympic spirit of fair play.

Repression Of Chinese Minorities


25 April 2007
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In its annual human rights report on China, the U.S. State Department expressed great concern over continued violations of the political, religious, and cultural rights of China’s Uighur Muslims. According to the report, Xinjiang authorities continued last year to detain and arrest persons engaged in activities considered threatening to government authority, including unauthorized religious activities, and charged them with a range of offences including state security crimes.

Chinese Muslims are subject to the same stringent registration requirements that other religious communities face; however, these regulations are enforced particularly strictly among Xinjiang’s Uighur Muslims. All mosques in China must register with the state-run China Islamic Association. Imams must be licensed by the state before they can practice, and must regularly attend patriotic education sessions. Xinjiang authorities often accuse individuals engaged in peaceful religious activity with committing the "three evils" of terrorism, separatism, and extremism.

In China, Uighur rights activists and their families can face harsh penalties. A Chinese court in Xinjiang recently sentenced Ablikim Abdiriyim to nine years in prison for allegedly "instigating and engaging in secessionist activities." Mr. Ablikim is the son of the exiled president of the World Uighur Congress, Rebiya Kadeer. Two of Ms. Kadeer's other sons were charged with tax offenses, one of whom was given a seven-year prison sentence. There are reports that Mr. Ablikim and another son were mistreated while in detention.

The United States has repeatedly raised concerns about both the charges and the lack of due process in these cases, which appear to have been initiated in retaliation for Ms. Kadeer’s political activities in the United States. We have also raised concerns over the lack of due process in the extradition, conviction, and sentencing of Huseyincan Celil, a Canadian citizen who was extradited from Uzbekistan to China in March 2006.

China shares with the international community a legitimate right, and an obligation, to combat terrorism wherever it occurs. At the same time, the Chinese government should not use the war on terrorism as a pretext for cracking down on Uighurs or anyone else engaged in peaceful political dissent. "Whenever China restrains its people’s freedoms," said Thomas Christensen, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, "it limits their ability to achieve their full potential." China, Mr. Christensen said, will not be considered a leader in the international arena until it develops a more open, transparent, and free society.

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Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Heads to China Amid Calls for Human Rights




By Cindy Chan
Epoch Times Ottawa Staff
Apr 25, 2007

Falun Gong practitioners re-enact a scene of organ harvesting in China. Canadian investigators David Kilgour and David Matas report that the vital organs of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, mostly to foreigners. (Xiaoyan Sun/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners re-enact a scene of organ harvesting in China. Canadian investigators David Kilgour and David Matas report that the vital organs of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, mostly to foreigners. (Xiaoyan Sun/The Epoch Times)

As Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay prepares to visit China early next week, distressed Canadians are calling on him to put top priority on human rights and the rescue of their family members persecuted and imprisoned by the Chinese regime.

MacKay will travel to Norway and Belgium for high-level meetings before arriving in China at the end of the month. Meetings with Chinese officials will include setting priorities on Canada-China "productive cooperation" in business. However, human rights are expected to be on his agenda, prompted in particular by a Chinese court's recent verdict of life imprisonment against a Canadian citizen.

'Continue to Pursue Justice'

Huseyincan Celil, a Uighur rights activist, was sentenced last Thursday on charges of separatism and terrorism. The Canadian government maintains there is no firm evidence for the charges against him. However, Chinese authorities refuse to recognize his Canadian citizenship and have continued to deny him Canadian consular assistance.

Besides issuing a strong statement protesting the verdict, MacKay has assured Mr. Celil's wife, Kamila Telendibaeva, that "Canada will continue to pursue justice" for her husband.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail yesterday he described Canada's relationship with China as "large, complex, multi-faceted" and one that "needs some nurturing." His approach to urging China on human rights is to do so "with tact," he said.

Appeal for 15 Family Members

Meanwhile, today in Ottawa Falun Dafa Association held a press conference on Parliament Hill asking for MacKay's help to secure the release of 15 Canadians' family members imprisoned in China for their practice of Falun Gong. Four relatives spoke at the conference.

Montreal resident Yao Lian said Falun Gong practitioners in China are "automatically labeled as 'criminals' or 'class enemies' by the regime and do not have any safety." Her husband Ma Jian was sentenced to forced labour camp for two and a half years on April 18.

Falun Dafa Association President Li Xun and spokesperson Lucy Zhou (front) host a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada calling on Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay to urge Chinese authorities to stop the persecution of Falun Gong. In the back from left to right are Michael Zeng, Shen Yue, Lin Shenli, and Yao Lian—Falun Gong practitioners appealing for the release of their family members imprisoned in China for their Falun Gong beliefs. (Donna He/The Epoch Times)
Falun Dafa Association President Li Xun and spokesperson Lucy Zhou (front) host a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada calling on Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay to urge Chinese authorities to stop the persecution of Falun Gong. In the back from left to right are Michael Zeng, Shen Yue, Lin Shenli, and Yao Lian—Falun Gong practitioners appealing for the release of their family members imprisoned in China for their Falun Gong beliefs. (Donna He/The Epoch Times)

Shen Yue appealed for help for his aunts jailed in Hebei province. His mother had earlier been imprisoned for 2 years. She was beaten with electric batons and "was forced to take off her clothes and stand outside," he recounted. Huang Xin, whose son Michael Zeng lives in Toronto, is serving an eight-year sentence. She has reportedly been severely tortured.

Toronto resident Lin Shenli's brother Mingli is serving a six-year sentence. Lin Shenli himself spent over two years in labour camp before being reunited with his wife in Canada in 2002, thanks to the help of Amnesty International and Canadian government officials, he said.

Key Policy of Persecution

Falun Dafa Association President Li Xun noted, "The persecution of Falun Gong is a key policy of the Chinese regime among its many severe human rights violations. It is a serious issue that must be raised during any human rights talks with the regime."

According to United Nations Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak's 2006 report on torture cases in China, Falun Gong practitioners account for 66 percent of victims of alleged torture while in government custody. Falun Gong practitioners account for 66 percent of victims of alleged torture while in government custody. The United States State Department's 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices stated that in China, "Police reportedly had quotas for Falun Gong practitioners" and has "continued to detain current and former Falun Gong practitioners and place them in reeducation camps."

The United States State Department's 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices stated that in China, "Police reportedly had quotas for Falun Gong arrests" and "continued to detain current and former Falun Gong practitioners and place them in reeducation camps."

They also drew attention to "Bloody Harvest," an investigation report into allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese regime. Authored by Winnipeg-based lawyer David Matas and former Secretary of State David Kilgour, the report concludes that "there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners." Matas and Kilgour have traveled to 30 countries to raise awareness of their report since its release last July.

Voice of International Community

Meanwhile, after six months of study on the widely criticized Canada-China bilateral human rights dialogue, the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights chaired by Conservative MP Jason Kenney is expected shortly to release its report. NDP Human Rights Critic Wayne Marston, a member of the subcommittee, told The Epoch Times yesterday that the subcommittee has "proposed some significant change which you will see in the report."

Among countries engaged in human rights dialogues with China, which include the U.S., U.K., Australia, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Japan, and others, Canada is the first to commission an assessment of the dialogue process.

Li referred to "Canadian integrity and responsibility." Indeed, a 2002 Private Member's Motion passed unanimously in the House of Commons resulted in the release of three practitioners. The Motion, introduced by Conservative MP Scott Reid, urged then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to raise the issue of thirteen practitioners with Canadian family ties at his meeting with Chinese leader Jiang Zemin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.

Larry Bagnell and Pierre Poilievre are among other MPs who have lent support.

On the rescue of the family members, Li said, "The voice of the international community is very significant and very important."

Relations with China need nurturing, MacKay says


From Monday's Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay embarks on his long-awaited first trip to China this week, arguing that Canada can press its case for human rights "with tact" while still building on the robust business relationship with the economic giant.

"I agree that the relationship with China needs some nurturing, as it would with any large, complex, multi-faceted relationship ...," Mr. MacKay said in an interview yesterday.

"They've come some distance from where they were," he added, "and if we're able to position ourselves as a trusted ally and an interested country that isn't making these pronouncements in a provocative way, but in a helpful way, then I think Canada is positioned very well to influence China positively."

Mr. MacKay's trip comes a week after the controversial sentencing of Huseyin Celil, an Islamic religious leader and Canadian citizen who was condemned by a Chinese court to life in prison. The minister leaves Wednesday, travelling first to Europe for meetings with NATO foreign ministers.

He has pledged to raise the issue of Mr. Celil with his Chinese hosts and to review a 1999 agreement with China on consular relations. Sources said Mr. MacKay may also make mention of opening a series of new trade offices. The visit comes after a year of tension between the two nations, prompted in part by the Celil case.

Last fall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chinese officials traded jabs prior to a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit.

Mr. Harper said before the meeting that Canada would not sell out its values in return for unfettered access to Chinese markets.

Mr. MacKay acknowledged yesterday that the Conservative government has taken a different tack than the Liberals before it, but said that doesn't mean the Tories can't position themselves as a trusted partner.

"We need to engage with China further on terms that we feel are appropriate, are positive and moving in a direction that we feel are consistent with Canadian values; that includes promotion of democracy, that includes enhanced human rights," he said.

"Those goals can be achieved without having a deterioration in our commercial partnership or our trade relationship, in my view, if it's done with tact and if it's done without being viewed or characterized as confrontational."

The meeting comes as some experts say it appears the Conservative government may be taking some steps to improve the relationship with Beijing.

It has, for example, moved to push forward with a plan to strengthen economic, social and educational ties. The government's former deputy minister of foreign affairs, Peter Harder, met with counterparts last December to set an agenda to continue talks about the Strategic Partnership, a dialogue that had all but stopped last fall after Canada cooled its relations with the Chinese.

Mr. Harder said he sees some signs of increased engagement.

"I do think there is a deliberate attempt to, and strategy to, engage China on a broader range of issues and to ensure that we develop multi-faceted engagement," he said.

"Canada, I would argue, is losing relative position in China and yet China continues to be our second-largest trading partner ... This is not an inconsequential relationship."

Mr. MacKay also said the two governments plan to re-engage in a human-rights dialogue that had spurred sharp criticisms from some members of the Conservative government. A subcommittee headed by Tory MP Jason Kenney is expected to issue a report criticizing the dialogue as ineffective and asking for improvements.

"This has simply been a matter of getting all the right people around the table at the right time," Mr. MacKay said, adding that he has asked his deputy about getting the group back together again.

Life in prison for Celil



China claims Canadian conducted separatist and terrorist activities

By Dana Borcea
The Hamilton Spectator
(Apr 20, 2007)

Kamila Telendibaeva stayed up late to find out if and when she would ever see her husband again.

The call she was waiting for came from foreign affairs just after 1 a.m. yesterday.

The news was bad.

Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen, was sentenced to life in prison in China for alleged separatist and terrorist activities.

"I was expecting three, maybe four years," a still stunned Telendibaeva said yesterday in her Burlington townhouse.

She insists her husband is innocent and being targeted by Chinese officials for seeking justice for Western China's Muslim, Turkish-speaking Uyghur minority.

"He was fighting for human rights," she said.

Celil, 38, was arrested in Uzbekistan in March 2006 while the couple was visiting Telendibaeva's family.

Originally from China, Celil escaped to Uzbekistan and then Turkey, fleeing Chinese authorities.

He came to Canada as a refugee six years ago and became a citizen in 2005.

Telendibaeva said they risked a trip back to the region to visit her sick mother. They figured their Canadian passports would guarantee their safety.

Since returning from Uzbekistan without her husband last year, the 29-year-old has raised their four children alone.

Her oldest, Mohammad, 7, is wheelchair-bound and suffers from severe developmental disabilities.

Her youngest has never met his father.

Telendibaeva was three months pregnant with Zubyir when Celil was arrested.

She has decided to put off telling her sons the truth about their father.

"I show them his picture and always just say he's going to come home."

Even after a sleepless night, Telendibaeva appeared composed and resolved.

"I will fight every day to bring him home," she said. "I will never give up. Not ever."

Between back-to-back phone calls and a barrage of questions from a small army of reporters parked in her modest but immaculate living room, she said she would continue petitioning Canadian government officials to bring her husband home.

She has been in daily contact with Canadian officials for several months but complains more should have been done earlier to pressure officials.

Despite a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper last October and a call from Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay yesterday morning, Telendibaeva said Canada should have stood up for her husband much earlier.

"It's not enough. He is still in jail."

A foreign affairs spokesperson provided no response to the criticism.

An Asia region campaigner with Amnesty International agreed the Canadian government should have pressed harder.

"I believe there was more they could have done," said Cheryl Hotchkiss.

She added Amnesty was concerned for Celil's safety given his lack of consular access and the threat of torture he faces in a Chinese prison.

Hotchkiss said "consistently applied international pressure" could help win an appeal and fair trial for Celil.

Relatives who were in court Wednesday to witness Celil's brief sentencing said he did not appear physically harmed.

They told Telendibaeva he spoke only briefly and told the court, "It's not fair, it's all lies."

dborcea@thespec.com

905-526-3214

Canada blasts China over Uighur refugee's sentence


`SOURED RELATIONS': The Canadian foreign minister said his country would `stand tall' to protect the human rights of one of its citizens who was jailed for separatism

AFP, OTTAWA
Saturday, Apr 21, 2007, Page 5

Canada blasted China on Thursday for sentencing a Canadian citizen to life in prison on terrorism and separatism charges in a closed trial, saying the verdict had soured relations between the two countries.

Huseyin Celil, 37, a Chinese-born ethnic Uighur, was sentenced to life in prison for "the crime of splitting the motherland" and involvement in terrorism, China's foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao (劉建超) said.

Celil was extradited from Uzbekistan to China during a trip in May last year where he vanished into Chinese custody. Canadian diplomats tried to gain access to him in Uzbekistan and are trying to gain access to him in China.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay told reporters: "The stakes are very high for Mr Celil and certainly this case has had a spillover impact on Canada's relationship with China."

In a statement, he said Ottawa "remains gravely concerned about allegations that Mr Celil has been mistreated while in Chinese custody and possibly subjected to torture," accusing Beijing of a possible "serious breach" of the UN convention against torture.

The verdict comes ahead of a visit to China later this month by MacKay, during which he said he would raise the issue.

"It's been raised at the highest levels including the president of China and I certainly intend to pursue it when I arrive in China next week," he said outside Parliament. "We don't intend to let this case go."

"When it comes to human rights, when it comes to the rights of a Canadian citizen, we will stand tall for that citizen," he said.

MacKay also chided Beijing for "persistently refusing to respond adequately to our concerns with respect to due process" for Celil and for failing to grant Canadian diplomats access to him "in spite of repeated requests."

Dual citizens

"As we believe that China did not live up to the spirit of the 1999 Canada-China consular agreement in this case, we will be conducting a review of this agreement to determine whether it is, in fact, an effective means of safeguarding Chinese-Canadian dual citizens traveling on Canadian passports," he said.

The minister said he registered his "deep disappointment" with the Chinese charge d'affaires in Ottawa and told Celil's wife the Canadian government would continue to "pursue justice" for him.

"We strongly urge the Chinese authorities to respect their commitment to provide Canadian officials with information about Mr Celil and to ensure that he is accorded due process," MacKay said.

Earlier, Liu had said: "The case of Huseyin Celil is an internal affair and Canada has no right to interfere."

The diplomatic row is the latest in a series of bilateral irritants that have included talks between a senior Canadian official and the Dalai Lama, accusations that China is spying on Canadian corporations, Canada's failure to deport a Chinese fugitive who allegedly steered a multibillion-dollar smuggling ring as well as stalled trade negotiations.

Celil fled China a decade ago and arrived in Canada in 2001 as a refugee and became a Canadian citizen. He was arrested in Tashkent on March 27 last year while trying to renew a visitor's visa in the Uzbek capital.
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Johnny Neihu's Mailbag


What's a worse fate? Being divested of misconceptions of Taiwanese backwardness or looking up a dictionary to become lilterated?



Saturday, Apr 21, 2007, Page 8

Brickbats for the Biggerses

Dear Johnny,
I chuckled reading your column on the Biggers family's proposed move to Taiwan ("Tips for vulnerable missionaries," April 14, page 8). You must forgive their ignorance of Taiwan (or indeed, anything not American), as they don't understand the rest of the world any better. We in Canada have been putting up with this forever.

I hope your reference to being "sent into humiliating exile in some godforsaken, fearful backwater. Like Canada" was just tongue in cheek. OK ... I'm sure it was.

I spent two-and-a-half years in Taipei (2003-2005) teaching English and I am very fond of your country and its people. I try to keep abreast of what's going on and wish you well in your struggles for democracy and independence.

I hope one day Canada will be the first to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.

Ken Redlack

Johnny replies: What is it about Canadians? They seem to be just about the only people in the world other than a few cousins of mine in Kaohsiung County who are able to stand up in public and call the Chicom spade a spade (note how Ottawa is standing up to Beijing over the persecution of Huseyin Celil). And when you poke fun at Canadians, they're incredibly polite and write nice letters!

Dear Johnny,
I've just finished firing off an e-mail to the author of the article about the Biggers family from South Carolina. What a load of crap! Just what we need, more Christians out to "save" the world. I do hope you also sent a letter and that more of your readers will join in.

As an American (shhh, please don't tell anyone) who quit an excellent job and sold her home (and everything in it -- including the car!) to make the move to Taiwan, I simply can't understand why anyone who has visited here would have the warped view that the chumps from South Carolina have.

My first visit here was for two weeks in May 2002 to attend a Wu Bai and China Blue concert, and that's when I decided that, come hell or high water, I was going to live out the rest of my days in Taiwan. You can keep the US, it stinks.

Marla Hill
Taipei

Johnny replies: Come on Marla, fair's fair. You know as well as I do that a couple of months in Taipei will divest this good family of any misconceptions. And I think you should sympathize with them instead of calling them and their home nasty words, because converting Taiwanese to Christianity is a feat comparable to the feeding of the 5,000 (which is to say, if you're not divine then you're in for some major disappointment). If I ever run into them, you can be sure I will offer them a beer -- well, perhaps a fermented asparagus juice if they prefer.

The simpler, the better

Dear Johnny,
While I thoroughly enjoyed your recent artical of "Gloves off: Time to knock and split" (April 7, page 8), and was able to grasp 90 percent of your story, I did for 4 or 5 times needed to look up in the English dictionary.

Can you not be a little more simpler and not so philosophycal? After all, I consider myself lilterated.

Une Person from other side of the Glove

Johnny replies: Thanks for writing. But hey, what's wrong with being philosophycal or looking up a dictionary? It's a much better fate than being illilterated.
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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Supporters seeking new lawyer for Celil


Supporters of Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen detained in China, say that his court-appointed lawyer is inadequate and that Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs has recommended they obtain independent legal advice there.

Mr. Celil, who was born in China but came to Canada as a refugee in 2001, was detained in Uzbekistan last March while travelling with his family on Canadian passports. Last summer, Uzbekistan deported him to China, where he faces multiple terrorism-related charges. Despite his Canadian citizenship, Mr. Celil has so far been denied access to Canadian consulate officials or lawyers.

Mr. Celil is a member of the Uighur people, a Muslim minority group whose calls for greater independence have angered officials in Beijing. Chinese officials have for years accused myriad Uighurs of terrorism -- one of Mr. Celil's childhood acquaintances was executed in China earlier this month -- but members of the Uighur community abroad say any act of defiance or separatism easily falls under the Chinese definition of terrorism.

Mehmet Tohti, the president of the Uighur Canadian Association, sent an e-mail to supporters yesterday asking for donations to help raise the $12,000 he estimates it will cost to hire an independent lawyer in China.

Mr. Tohti said he is unsure a new lawyer will be of much use to Mr. Celil. "The political powers in Beijing have already made a decision," he said of Mr. Celil's legal fate.

But a new lawyer might at least be able to prepare and present some documents in Mr. Celil's defence, something it doesn't appear his current lawyer has been able to do, Mr. Tohti said.

Mr. Tohti spoke with Mr. Celil's court-appointed lawyer over the weekend, he said. The lawyer told him he had met with Canadian officials, but otherwise there was little progress.

"He seemed a little bit scared," Mr. Tohti said of the lawyer.

In the meantime, Mr. Celil's immediate fate remains unclear. The first and last time he was seen in a public setting since his detention last March was early this month, when he appeared in a Chinese courtroom to hear charges against him.

While the practice of obtaining an independent lawyer is relatively straightforward in Canada, it is a far more unorthodox process in China, said Alex Neve, Canadian director of Amnesty International. Mr. Neve has been closely working on Mr. Celil's case since early in his detention.