Mr. Roland de Corneille (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Veterans Affairs):
Madam Speaker, approximately 4,500 Jews live in Syria. Syria is the only Arab country which, since 1948, has never officially permitted its Jewish citizens to leave. Alone among Arab countries, the Syrian Government continues to hold its Jewish community hostage.
The dashing of all hopes for legal emigration, combined with the deteriorating situation in Syria, has prompted Syrian Jews to turn in desperation to illegal avenues of escape. These illegal attempts to escape have led to arrests, harsh interrogation and long imprisonment of those caught by the authorities or suspected of aiding others to leave. Syria certainly would be especially opposed to the emigration of its Jews to Israel.
Even if they could get out, we must ask the awful question, as in the days before the Holocaust, "Where then could such refugees go?" I suggest that this is a subject of humanitarian and urgent concern to which Canada should direct its attention. There are various things we can look to our Government to do in addition to its present efforts. We should intensify our monitoring and surveillance of the situation. We should try to remind Syria of its obligations under the United Nations Charter of Human Rights to allow freedom of emigration. We should let Syria know that we are ready to open our doors in a special way to receive Syrian Jews in Canada, and we should encourage the many Canadian sponsors who are ready and willing to receive and support them to come forth.
Subtopic: HUMAN RIGHTS
Sub-subtopic: SYRIA-DENIAL OF EMIGRATION RIGHTS TO JEWISH CITIZENS