FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2019
Press Release: Civil society organizations mark Genocide Remembrance Month; call on Government of Canada to combat online hate, expedite refugee process for most at risk, and formally recognize the Romani Genocide
OTTAWA, April 10, 2019 — In recognition of Genocide Remembrance, Condemnation, and Prevention Month, a coalition of civil society organizations are joining together to solemnly commemorate and condemn acts of genocide and recommit to working together to prevent genocide. Events are scheduled to take place in Ottawa during the month of April and will be complemented by a national social media campaign.
“Genocide starts with words,” said Dafina Savic of Romanipe. “Today, we ask the Government of Canada to launch a national strategy to combat online hate, online propaganda, and dissemination of hateful misinformation. Recent events have demonstrated that online hate can quickly turn into real-world violence and terrorism. As people who have experienced – and continue to experience –the impact of these crimes, we ask the Government of Canada to create policy solutions to tackle this problem before more people are radicalized online.”
“Genocide is not simply a topic of the past,” explained Ms. Savic. “There are countless people around the world today who are persecuted and murdered because of who they are: Yezidis in Iraq, LGBTQ2+ people in Chechnya and Iran, and Rohingya in Myanmar, for example. We call on the Government of Canada to ensure that Canada’s refugee system is flexible, responsive, and effective in delivering emergency assistance to such groups. This is a matter of life and death.”
“Last year, the Canadian government issued a statement in remembrance and recognition of the Romani Genocide,” continued Ms. Savic. “Today, we ask the Government of Canada to make this long overdue recognition official by adopting an Act of Parliament recognizing August 2ndas a day of remembrance of the Romani Genocide, affirming the government’s commitment to combatting anti-Roma racism.”
“By commemorating Genocide Awareness Month,” added Araz Essw from Yezidi Human Rights Organization International, “we as Canadians – Armenian, Jewish, Roma, Rwandan, Ukrainian, and Yezidi citizens of this country – honour the memory of innocent people who lost their lives to genocide. It is our collective duty to stand up against injustice, hate, and bigotry around the world. If not us, who? If not now, when?”
- In 2015, with support from all major parties, the House of Commons unanimously passed M-587 designating April as Genocide Remembrance, Condemnation and Prevention Month.
- The motion commemorates genocides currently recognized by Canada: the Holocaust, the Ukrainian Holodomor, the Genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda, and the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Parliament has also recognized the Bosnian Genocide and the ongoing genocide of the Yezidi people of Syria and Iraq.
- The national social media campaign launched today will invite participants to add their name to a letter asking policy makers to adopt the three policy recommendations listed above. The letter will be presented to all three federal party leaders at the end of the month.
- We recognize that the Justice Committee has started to study online hate. This is a good first step in creating a national strategy to combat online hate.
About the Coalition Partners
- The Armenian National Committee of Canada is the largest and most influential Armenian-Canadian grassroots human rights organization
- Project Abraham is a frontline support agency for the GTA Yezidi survivors of ISIS
- Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations of Canada
- Romanipe is a non-profit organization whose mission is to defend the dignity and human rights of Romani peoples worldwide
- The Rwandan Humura Association was created to ensure the genocide perpetrated against the Batutsi Rwandan is never forgotten
- The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) is the voice of Canada’s Ukrainian community (1.4 million), bringing together national, provincial and local Ukrainian Canadian organizations
- The mission of the Yezidi Human Rights Organization is to defend and protect human rights and to educate people about the Yezidi Genocide
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada including Montreal’s Federation CJA