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Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada

Letter to Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

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

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
K1A 0A2

Honourable Mr. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, we challenge you to tell the whole world why you deny that genocide happened in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the 1992-1995 aggression, over 50,000 current Canadian Bosniaks were either caught in the conflict or were in Canada watching helplessly as innocent civilians’ fate fell into the Serbs’ hands. Today, all of us living in Canada, from children to grandparents, carry the scars of this aggression and genocide. Fifteen years later, as we fight to keep the memory of all those who lost their lives (for no reason other than being of Muslim faith) alive, we are faced with yet another significant challenge.

As you are aware Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Stephen Harper, you and your Conservative party will only vote for Motion M-416 if the word “genocide” is taken out. Why would you ask us to remove the word genocide when genocide is exactly what happened in July of 1995 in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, a town which was declared a “safe haven” by the United Nations? How can you deny what happened in Srebrenica was genocide when the United Nations, the Hague Court and the ICTY have all declared the massacres that took place as genocide. How can you justify Canada’s acknowledgement of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide and the Rwanda Genocide (to name a few) yet deny what happened in Bosnia was genocide when the same atrocities occurred? Countries worldwide have declared this as genocide, with the European Union and the United States having passed resolutions making July 11th Srebrenica Remembrance Day, so what is truly standing in Canada’s way?

Three political parties in the Parliament of Canada support the original motion, M - 416. Only the Conservatives, led by you, deny that what happened was genocide. Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Stephen Harper, please tell us why you deny that genocide was perpetrated in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where more than 8000 Bosniak civilians were murdered by Serbian forces and more than 25,000 civilians were displaced.

We are deeply saddened that Canada is refusing to recognize the worst human rights abuse in Europe since the Holocaust and we want nothing more than to see the original motion, which was submitted including the word genocide, passed by Parliament. This would not only mean so much to all Canadian Bosniaks but would also show the world that Canada does not, and will not, tolerate any form of brutality against an innocent population. We have made Canada our home because this is a place where the government believes in equality and democracy is a right provided to all. As Canadian citizens we stand together and ask you to keep equality alive by making July 11th Srebrenica Remembrance Day - thereby treating us as equals to the Jewish community, Armenian community, Rwandan community and all other communities which Canada has supported in the past. By denying this motion, you are going against Canada’s values which include equality and deliberately ignoring the principles of human rights.

We are sending you this message in an effort to remind you of Canada’s Commitment to G-8 and G-20, to the Organization of United Nations, to the Peace Implementation Council, and to the international body charged with implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina. We want you to remember the Canadian soldiers who have fallen in Bosnia and to remember the victims and survivors of this genocide.

We ask that by July 11th, 2010, when we commemorate 15 years since the greatest crime against humanity (in Europe) since the Second World War, Motion M - 416 is accepted in its original text. If this motion is not passed by this date, we expect you to explain, before the eyes of the world, the reasons behind your decision. Dedicating July 11th as Srebrenica Remembrance Day in Canada is essential to raise awareness about genocide and help prevent future genocides from ever occurring again in Bosnia and Herzegovina or anywhere else around the globe.

We understand that as the Prime Minister of Canada you carry many responsibilities and the weight of many important decisions rest on your shoulders. Please make the country proud by making the decision to pass this motion no matter how difficult it may be for you. You have the chance to make a positive difference in this world and to be remembered for it, please take advantage of it.

Passing this motion is the right thing to do and, at the end of the day, doing what is right is what matters most in this life. Don’t let “never again” just be words on a paper, let’s ensure that “never again” really means NEVER AGAIN.

Thank you for your time and for your sincere consideration of our request.


For the Canadian – Bosnian Community

Professor Emir Ramic

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

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada