ACTION ALERT: IRGC calls for International Campaign to end Bosnian Genocide Denial

ACTION ALERT: IRGC calls for adopting the Bill C-533 – second parliamentary reading

ACTION ALERT: Canadian Parliament Adopts Srebrenica Genocide Resolution

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada

The Letter of CNABC and IRGC to the Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada
Published: September 21, 2010  

The Letter of CNABC and IRGC to the Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa
K1A 0A2

Fax: 613-941-6900
pm@pm.gc.ca

September 21, 2010

Dear The Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, has informed us, in his correspondence of 28 July 2010 that the Government of Canada would support “a parliamentary resolution acknowledging the massacre and establishing a Srebrenica Remembrance Day in Canada.” The Honourable Lawrence Cannon explained further that “Unfortunately, for procedural reasons, Motion M-146 and Bill C-533, which would have established a Srebrenica Remembrance Day, could not be presented in Parliament before the summer recess.”

We, the Congress of North American Bosniaks, Canadian Branch (CNABC) and the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada (IRGC) are gratified to learn that Motion M-146 and Bill C-533 will be acted upon in the next legislative session. We were also appreciative of Minister Cannon’s emphasis on a number of other profoundly important points when he stated that: “Canada condemns the atrocities committed in Srebrenica in July 1995, as well as all other forms of war crimes against humanity and genocide, and is a vigorous defender of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Canada fully supports the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the judicial bodies in this region in prosecuting all those who committed such crimes.”

We look forward to the discussion and ratification of Motion M-146 and Bill C-533. However, we would like to take this opportunity emphasize our overriding concern that the original language of Motion 145 be respected.

The original language of Motion M-146 reads as follows: That, in the opinion of the House, the government should declare the day of July 11 as Srebrenica Remembrance Day and the week of July 11 as Bosnia and Herzegovina Tribute Week in memorial of the Srebrenica Massacre of July 1995, in which more than 8,000 Bosniak civilians were executed under the policy of ethnic cleansing, the worst act of genocide in Europe since the Second World War, and 30,000 others were expelled from their homes by Serbian forces.

Our position continues to be that the motion should, explicitly and intentionally, refer to the war crime committed at Srebrenica as genocide. The facts regarding the Srebrenica genocide are clear and well established. The 26 February 2007 verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Federal Republic of Yugoslavia found that genocide occurred in Srebrenica. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), in successive verdicts starting with Radislav Krstic and most recently in the 10 June, 2010 verdicts against Ljubisa Beara and Vujadin Popovic, also established individual criminal liability for perpetrators of genocide in Srebrenica. It has not escaped our attention that these are the “judicial bodies” (ICJ and ICTY) to which the Honourable Lawrence Cannon was referring when he asserted that “Canada fully supports the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the judicial bodies in this region in prosecuting all those who committed such crimes.” These are the very judicial bodies that have determined and insisted that crime at Srebrenica was genocide.

Recently, under the headline, “Genocide Denial and Honoring of War Criminals Are Unacceptable in a Democratic Society Based on the Rule of Law,” the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Sarajevo declared that it strongly condemned “recent actions and statements by senior politicians in the Republika Srpska officially glorifying Serb convicted war criminals and denying the fact that genocide took place in Srebrenica in July 1995. That such actions and statements were made immediately before and after the 11 July commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, makes them all the more despicable.” This OHR condemnation was also endorsed by The European Union Special Representative, The Council of Europe, The United Nations, The European Union Force in BiH, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and NATO HQ in Sarajevo.

The above statement by the OHR would suggest that any public official who does not recognize the crime at Srebrenica as genocide in full knowledge of these court decisions and these international statements not only insults the memory of those who were murdered, but also actively undermines the rule of law. We agree with this and also believe that openly confronting and dealing with the crimes of the past is an absolute necessity in order to build a climate for reconciliation and to ensure full accountability of individuals through the criminal justice system. Denial of the past and fabrication of a distorted historical narrative only weakens the credibility of those who deny judicially established historical facts.

To say “never again” is meaningless if we do nothing. Genocide could happen again elsewhere if we don’t recognize genocide as such and prosecute those responsible for the genocide that happened in Srebrenica. The CNABC and IRGC, on behalf of the Bosniak-Canadian community, will continue to do everything in their power, as human beings, as Canadian citizens, and as victims of the genocide, to ensure that justice is done. All those who believe in justice – justice that is blind to ethnicity, justice that is completely impartial – must speak out against any denial of the genocide that took place in Srebrenica. Any denial of this genocide is, in our opinion, beyond the pale in a civilized society.

In Canada today there are more than 50,000 Canadian Bosniaks and all of them have been affected by ethnic cleansing, genocide and the aggression committed during the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in one way or another. Many of these individuals are concentration camp survivors; rape victims; physically disabled; or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Others have lost family, homes and have been forced out of their home country. Seeking refuge in Canada has been a blessing for many of these individuals because they see Canada as a strong democratic nation with a strong stance on human rights abuses. We are, again, deeply grateful for the Honorable Lawrence Cannon’s affirmation that Canada is “a vigorous defender of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.” We cannot stress enough the importance of marking July 11th as Srebrenica Remembrance Day, and of recognizing the crime at Srebrenica as genocide, not only for the our community but for human rights worldwide.

On behalf of the 50,000 Canadian Bosniaks, CNABC and IRGC we trust, therefore, that the members in the House of Commons will vote on the original text of the Motion, M-416 as soon as reasonably possible. This Motion would recognize and help ease the physical and emotional scars that all Canadian Bosniaks are carrying with them.

We thank you, in advance, for your support of this motion.

Sincerely,

Professor Emir Ramic

The Congress of North American Bosniaks, Canadian Branch
The Institute for Research of Genocide Canada

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada