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Canada Marks Arab Awakening’s Third Anniversary

December 17, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today released the following statement, marking the third anniversary of the self-immolation of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi:

“Three years after the shocking act of Mr. Bouazizi, Canada continues to stand with the people of the Middle East and North Africa who have courageously demanded freedom, human rights, dignity, rule of law and greater economic opportunity.

“On this sombre anniversary, we honour those men and women who have brought about historic change in the Middle East and North Africa through peaceful means, too often making the ultimate sacrifice.

“While visiting Tunisia last December, I had the honour to meet with Manoubia and Leila Bouazizi, Mohamed’s mother and sister, and I wished Leila luck with her studies in Canada.

“Today, representatives of the G-8 and countries of the Middle East and North Africa are meeting in Cairo for the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) Initiative Forum for the Future. Canada will take this opportunity to reaffirm our values, including religious freedom, women’s empowerment and freedom of expression.

“A new Middle East and North Africa began to emerge three years ago when people united across the region wanting something more. But hope for a better life remains a distant dream for many in the region.

“Canada will continue to stand with the freedom-loving people of the Middle East and North Africa as they face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

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