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The House of Commons standing committee on foreign affairs and international trade, at a special meeting in Ottawa on Wednesday, unanimously adopted a resolution asking the Canadian government to take a leading role at the United Nations in condemning the Taleban for its edict against religious minorities in Afghanistan.
The resolution was moved by Indo-Canadian Member of Parliament Deepak Obhrai, who told this reporter in a telephone interview on Thursday, that the government should immediately examine the situation in Aghanistan.
The resolution calls on Ottawa to "co-sponsor resolutions within the United Nations system which advocate the promotion and protection of religious freedom and respect of international humanitarian law in Afghanistan".
Meanwhile, Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis has alerted constituents in his suburban Scarborough-Agincourt riding, east of Toronto, to start sending faxes and make telephone calls to the Taleban ambassador in Islamabad, disapproving his government's action against Hindus and Sikhs.
His riding office is widely publicising the ambassador's name, telephone and fax numbers [Mullaj Abdul Saleem Zareef, tel: 9251-227-0501, fax: 9251-227-0505].
"I have started this campaign among south Asian constituents, that they should voice disapproval of what the Taleban is doing against religious minorities," he said.
The resolution by the foreign affairs committee reaffirmed "the importance of religious freedom as a basic human rights".
Recognising "that the Taleban continues to abuse basic human rights of Afghan citizens, in particular those of women and children", the committee condemned "recent actions... and recommends that the government of Canada actively co-sponsors resolutions within the United Nations system which advocate the promotion and protection of religious freedom and respect of international humanitarian law in Afghanistan".
"I am very pleased with the resolve of committee members to make a strong statement regarding the Taleban edict to force religious labelling of its Hindu minority," said Obhrai. "The identification of minorities is a path that leads to disaster. Therefore, I wanted the government of Canada to act strongly and immediately to bring this issue to the Untied Nations and ask the world body to condemn what is going on in Afghanistan."
"The committee has provided this Liberal government with a clear direction on how to proceed in its condemnation of the Taleban. It is now up to the government to take the next step and bring this to the United Nations."
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley had expressed shock and regret at the Taleban's edict ordering Hindus and Sikhs to wear special yellow labels on their clothing, identifying their faith.
"I am shocked by these reports," Manley had said in a statement last week. "I hope that the Taleban will come to its senses and not implement this terrible edict."
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