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Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada

Press release – Bosnian Community in Canada

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada
Published: June 16, 2010  

The Congress of North American Bosniaks, Canadian Branch

The Institute for Research of Genocide Canada

Justice for Bosnia Task Force, Ottawa, Canada

Islamic Association of Bosniaks Canada

The Right Honourable Stephen Joseph Harper, Prime Minister of Canada,

The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Dear Prime Minister,

Dear Minister of Foreign Affairs,

The year 2010 marks the 15th anniversary since the act of genocide took place in a small town in eastern Bosnia called Srebrenica. It also marks the 5th anniversary of lobby action by Canadian Bosniaks, who want Canada recognize this genocide as such, and to come aboard with the rest of the developed world in their pursuit of international commitment to justice and peace.

Today we are here to reiterate our commitment to the promise of Never Again Genocide, Never Again Concentration Camps and Never Again Mass Graves. We are here today to show that maintenance of this commitment is very important because these strong messages can actually save lives of those living in regions impacted by raging wars.

The truth that we want to say today, loud and clear, has been confirmed by many living and unfortunately many dead people. Experts from many renowned organizations, International courts and tribunals, survivors, witnesses, and exhumed remains from the mass graves all tell the same truth.

THAT IN THE PERIOD BETWEEN THE 10TH AND 14TH OF JULY 1995 IN THE REGION OF A SMALL TOWN IN EASTERN BOSNIA CALLED SREBRENICA, AT LEAST 8353 MEN AND BOYS WERE GRUSOMLY EXECUTED BY SERB FORCES, UNDER THE COMMAND OF GENERAL RATKO MLADIC, WAR CRIMINAL, STILL AT LARGE. LET US REMIND OURSELVES THAT SREBRENICA AT THAT TIME WAS A SAFE HAVEN PROCLAIMED BY THE UNITED NATIONS.

Bodies of these innocent people were then buried in multiple mass graves, which were subsequently, by using heavy machinery, moved again and buried in secondary mass graves in order to bury the truth too. Some bodies were dismantled in this process and the body parts of one person in some cases ended up in two, three or more different mass graves.

It has been confirmed by the International Tribunal in Hague, By the Senate of the USA, by the European Union Parliament, and by other counties, states and cities including the state of Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina, city of Grand Rapids and the countries such as Croatia, Lithuania, and even Serbia and Montenegro.

The Srebrenica genocide was a repeat of the dehumanizing genocidal practices seen during World War II. At Srebrenica, Bosniak men (some as young as fifteen years old) were separated from women and the elderly, and were never to be seen again — all under the eyes of the Western world. The images of the suffering were seen worldwide and somehow only managed to receive a juridical epilogue.

For the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), there was no hesitation in the sentencing of Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstić. He was sentenced to thirty-five years in jail for “aiding and abetting” the genocide at Srebrenica. This was a crime that was all the more heinous because it was carried out in spite of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 819, which had demanded that Srebrenica be treated as “a safe area which should be free from any armed attacks,” and that the Republika Srpska Army should withdraw “from the areas surrounding Srebrenica”.

In its Judgement in the Krstić case the Court stated that “The depravity, brutality and cruelty with which the Bosnian Serb Army … treated the innocent inhabitants of the safe area are now well known and documented. Bosnian women, children and elderly were removed from the enclave, and between 7,000 – 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men were systematically murdered”. The Court clarified that, “that Bosnian Serb forces carried out genocide against the Bosnian Muslims… They targeted for extinction the forty thousand Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica, a group which was emblematic of the Bosnian Muslims in general. They stripped all the male Muslim prisoners, military and civilian, elderly and young, of their personal belongings and identification, and deliberately and methodically killed them solely on the basis of their identity. The Bosnian Serb forces were aware, when they embarked on this genocidal venture, that the harm they caused would continue to plague the Bosnian Muslims”. The Court concluded that we must call “the massacre at Srebrenica by its proper name: genocide.”

Further, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Serbia “violated the obligation to prevent genocide, under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in respect of the genocide that occurred in Srebrenica in July 1995”. Moreover, the ICJ found that Serbia “failed in its duty to co-operate fully with the ICTY,” to bring about, for example, the capture of the accused war criminal Ratko Mladić. Serbia should be held responsible for failing to take all measures to prevent genocide in Srebrenica.

International Law emphasizes that genocide is a crime against humanity, and this convention applies to the brutalities perpetrated against the Bosniaks in Srebrenica in July 1995. The Parliament of the European Union and the Parliament of many European countries as well as the American Congress and the Senate have adopted resolutions on the Bosnian and Srebrenica Genocide. What happened in Srebrenica and in the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995 is an example of crimes prohibited under International Humanitarian Law and for that reason it cannot be forgotten. As the Court stated in the Krstić Judgement: “This is a crime against all of humankind, its harm being felt not only by the group targeted for destruction, but by all of humanity”.

The question is: What is Canada waiting for?

Honourable Brian Masse, MP for Windsor West was the first MP to answer to the request of the Bosnian-Canadian Community and he finally embodied our efforts to have Canada pass a motion recognizing, confirming and commemorating the Srebrenica genocide through a Srebrenica Remembrance Day. During the past year a motion has been drafted and introduced as m-416; followed by numerous letters to all MP’s, to office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Honourable Lawrence Cannon and to the office of Honorable Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mr. Masse’s commitment to the greater good and justice reached it’s peak, when during the negotiations he agreed to give the motion (final version agreed upon by all parties) to Mr. Cannon. However, a sudden change of hearts is jeopardizing the passage of this motion just days before the 15th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica. Neither Mr. Masse nor the Bosnian community ever received any explanation or the rationale behind this decision.

Congress of North American Bosniaks, Canadian Branch, Institute for the research of Genocide, Canada, Justice for Bosnia Task Force, Ottawa, Canada, and Islamic Association of Bosniak Canada in the name of 50 000 Bosnians now living in Canada are anxiously awaiting the decision of Canadian Government. We are here to help Canada get abreast with the rest of the International Powers who already passed similar resolutions.

We like to inform Canadian public that in a letter to members of the Canadian Parliament from more than 20 most important experts in the world says: “ We, Members of the International Team of Experts of the Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada express support for Motion M – 416 on Genocide in Srebrenica. On August 29, 2009, MP Brian Masse introduced the Motion that was sponsored by Mr. Brian Masse, MP, and seconded by Mr. Bill Siksay, MP, and Ms. Chris Charlton, MP. The Motion has support from the Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party of Canada, Blok Quebecois, Green Party of Canada, the Islamic and Jewish Congress of Canada, the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada, the Congress of North American Bosniaks and many organizations for the protection of human rights and freedom in Canada and in the world. We ask that the Canadian Government pass (proclaim) motion M-416 as originally introduced by Mr. Brian Masse. We ask that it be passed in the latest negotiated version and that Srebrenica Remembrance Day be proclaimed as soon as possible. It is our hope that Canada will stand proud of its long history of peacekeeping and its tolerance oriented national mentality. We are anxiously awaiting your response”.

We are sending a direct message for Mr. Harper to remember Canada’s Commitment to G-8 and G-20, to remember Canada’s commitment to the Organization of United Nations, to remember Canada’s commitment to the Peace Implementation Council, an international body charged with implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina, to remember the Canadian soldiers who have fallen in Bosnia and to remember the victims and survivors of this massacre, and to answer the simple question: is Canada ready to be a leader once again and truly be the best country to live in for many great Canadians?

Motion M-416

That, in the opinion of the House, the day of July 11 should be recognized as Srebrenica Remembrance Day in memorial of the Srebrenica Massacre of July of 1995, in which more than 8,000 Bosniak civilians were executed under the policy of ethnic cleansing, declared an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and 30,000 others were expelled from their homes by Serbian forces.

It is our hope that Canada will have its representative in Srebrenica on July 11th to stand proud of its long history of peacekeeping and its tolerance oriented national mentality.

Respectfully,

For the Canadian – Bosnian Community

Professor Emir Ramic

President of the Congress of North American Bosniaks, Canadian Branch and Director of the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada

Zeljko Milicevic

President and Chairman, Justice for Bosnia Task Force, Ottawa

Tajib Pasanbegovic

Head Imam Bosniak – Canadian Community

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada