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Turkey passed up Canada's offer of help with Khashoggi investigation, documents show – CBC.ca

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Canada offered to help Turkey investigate the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, but the Turks never took up the proposal. 

Documents from Global Affairs Canada obtained by CBC News under Access to Information law show that in October 2018, then-foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland told her Turkish counterpart Canada would be happy to send investigators to help probe the death of the prominent Saudi journalist and dissident.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and well-known critic of the government of Saudi Arabia, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul early in October 2018 when he tried to pick up a marriage document for him and his Turkish fiancé.

Investigations have pinned responsibility for his death on Saudi Arabia. His dismembered remains have never been found.

A Global Affairs employee, who asked not to be identified, told CBC News that Turkish officials let the offer hang and never asked for Canada’s help — despite repeated calls from its president for broad international co-operation in the investigation of Khashoggi’s death.

“Turkey simply never asked us,” the Canadian official said.

The U.S. has featured more prominently in Turkey’s efforts; President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personally urged the Americans to get more involved in the probe. Turkey also sent Washington and other national governments an audio recording of Khashoggi’s death.

Days later, Canadian Security Intelligence Service chief David Vigneault flew to Turkey to hear the same recording at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s request.

Contacted by CBC News, Turkish officials said that Canada has a “strong” record on human rights but didn’t say why Canada’s offer of help wasn’t accepted.

“Turkey’s only goal is to seek justice and accountability for this terrible crime. In this respect, we have demonstrated our readiness to co-operate with all responsible and interested actors and partners,” said a statement from the embassy sent to CBC News.

Self-exiled Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi said earlier this year that the Saudi government has been moving toward nationalist radicalism. 1:14

“We see that the international community is gradually losing its interest in this issue,” the statement continued. “It is important to reverse this trend and increase awareness. Canada is well placed to play a leading role.”

International community’s response was lacklustre: report

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on executions, conducted her own investigation this summer, stating that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi’s “premeditated execution” and citing “credible evidence” implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing. Turkey had started its own investigation before Callamard issued her report.

Callamard’s report also raked the international community over its ineffective response to Khashoggi’s murder.

“His killing was the result of elaborate planning involving extensive co-ordination and significant human and financial resources,” the report says. Callamard concluded that Khashoggi’s killing violated six international laws, including provisions on torture, misuse of consular offices and freedom of expression.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia is currently a member of the UN Human Rights Council and is serving as host of the G20 summit this coming year.

Canada’s first concrete public step against Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s killing came six weeks after news of his death. The government introduced sanctions against 17 Saudi nationals — but the move was criticized as a half-measure.

“I don’t think it has much practical effect,” Canada’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dennis Horak told CBC’s Power & Politics at the time.

Canada weighing relationship with Saudi Arabia

The documents obtained by CBC News also show Canada was weighing the negative impact the Khashoggi case would have on its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and involvement of the Saudi government, have complicated prospects for progress towards normalizing relations in the near-term,” says one document sent to Global Affairs staff. 

In August 2018, Saudi Arabia froze all new trade with Canada and ordered Saudi students studying at Canadian universities to relocate after Freeland tweeted her concerns about human rights activists imprisoned in the kingdom. The Saudi foreign ministry called Freeland’s statement “blatant interference” in their domestic affairs.

Canada also has been chastised by the international community for years for arranging a controversial multi-billion-dollar armoured vehicle sale to Saudi Arabia. Since Khashoggi’s death and the reports about the Saudi crown prince’s alleged involvement, those calls for Canada to pull back from the kingdom have only gotten louder.

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Hundreds more unmarked graves found at erstwhile Saskatchewan residential school

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An indigenous group in Saskatchewan on Thursday said it had found the unmarked graves of an estimated 751 people at a now-defunct Catholic residential school, just weeks after a similar, smaller discovery rocked the country.

The latest discovery, the biggest to date, is a grim reminder of the years of abuse and discrimination indigenous communities have suffered in Canada even as they continue to fight for justice and better living conditions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “terribly saddened” by the discovery at Marieval Indian Residential School about 87 miles (140 km) from the provincial capital Regina. He told indigenous people that “the hurt and the trauma that you feel is Canada’s responsibility to bear.”

It is not clear how many of the remains detected belong to children, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme told reporters, adding that oral stories mentioned adults being buried at the site.

Delorme later told Reuters some of the graves belong to non-indigenous people who may have belonged to the church. He said the First Nation hopes to find the gravestones that once marked these graves, after which they may involve police.

Delorme said the church that ran the school removed the headstones.

“We didn’t remove the headstones. Removing headstones is a crime in this country. We are treating this like a crime scene,” he said.

The residential school system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families and brought them to Christian residential schools, mostly Catholic, run on behalf of the federal government.

“Canada will be known as a nation who tried to exterminate the First Nations,” said Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. “This is just the beginning.”

OLD WOUNDS

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which published a report that found the residential school system amounted to cultural genocide, has said a cemetery was left on the Marieval site after the school building was demolished.

The local Catholic archdiocese gave Cowessess First Nation C$70,000 ($56,813) in 2019 to help restore the site and identify unmarked graves, said spokesperson Eric Gurash. He said the archdiocese gave Cowessess all its death records for the period Catholic parties were running the school.

In a letter to Delorme on Thursday, Archbishop Don Bolen reiterated an earlier apology for the “failures and sins of Church leaders and staff” and pledged to help identify the remains.

Heather Bear, who went to Marieval as a day student in the 1970s and is also vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, recalled a small cemetery at the school but not of the size revealed on Thursday.

“You just didn’t want to be walking around alone in (the school),” she recalled. There was a “sadness that moves. And I think every residential school has that sadness looming.”

The Cowessess First Nation began a ground-penetrating radar search on June 2, after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia outraged the country. Radar at Marieval found 751 “hits” as of Wednesday with a 10% margin of error, meaning at least 600 graves on the site.

The Kamloops discovery reopened old wounds in Canada about the lack of information and accountability around the residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families and subjected them to malnutrition and physical and sexual abuse.

Pope Francis said in early June that he was pained by the Kamloops revelation and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native peoples. But he stopped short of the direct apology some Canadians had demanded.

Thursday was a difficult day, Delorme told Reuters. But he wants his young children to know “we will get the reconciliation one day with action like today.”

($1 = 1.2321 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alistair Bell, Grant McCool and Daniel Wallis)

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Teamsters votes to fund and support Amazon workers

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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union in the United States and Canada, said on Thursday it has voted to formalize a resolution to support and fund employees of Amazon.com Inc in their unionization efforts.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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Citigroup names new sales head for Treasury and Trade Solutions unit

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Citigroup Inc has named Steve Elms as the new sales head for the bank’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) unit effective immediately, according to an internal memo shared by a company spokesperson.

Elms, who will oversee the management of the global sales teams, has been involved with the bank’s TTS division for over 10 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

TTS is a division of the bank’s Institutional Clients group. The segment offers cash management and trade services and finance to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations around the world.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and David Henry in New York; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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