Ottawa, ON – This month marks the seventh anniversary of Canada’s official recognition of April as Genocide Remembrance, Condemnation, and Prevention Month.
Today, at a press conference at the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery, a coalition of advocacy organizations representing victims of recognized genocides, including Member of Parliament Ali Ehsassi, the Armenian National Committee of Canada, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Humura Association, Romanipe, Project Abraham, the Rohingya Human Rights Network, and the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, issued a warning: lack of education about genocide leads to complacence about the actions of authoritarian states.
“Russia is waging a war of annihilation against Ukraine. As news out of Ukraine today proves, for Putin, as for past Russian leaders, Ukrainian lives mean little,” said Sevag Belian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, spokesperson for the coalition. “The continued denial of the 1915 Armenian Genocide emboldens Turkish President Erdogan to bulldoze ethnic minorities, encourage Azerbaijan’s military aggression and invade neighbouring countries. The old canards of Jewish control of media, governments, and banks – language used by Hitler and his henchmen – circulate widely today. China is detaining millions of Uyghurs in concentration camps where they are subjected to torture, political indoctrination, forced labour, and organ harvesting.”
As seen recently throughout the COVID pandemic, the January 6 insurrection, and the war in Ukraine, social media has become a platform used by bad actors to spread misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and propagate hate. “Facebook was used by Myanmar’s military to help fuel a genocide against the Rohingya people. Platforms are littered with content that portrays Roma as criminals, uneducated, or deserved outcasts. Hate speech and propaganda were catalysts of the genocidal violence against Rwandan Tutsis,” continued Belian.
In an impassioned speech before members of parliament and the press core, the coalition called on the federal government to do more to prevent hateful and racist content online, and advocated that social media platforms should be compelled to remove hateful and extremist content.
The coalition asked the government to cancel the refugee status document requirement and accelerate the in-Canada process for PSR applications (ROC-O) for refugees fleeing current conflicts.
A call was also made for the re-establishment of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Genocide Prevention to educate MPs about genocide and equip them with the tools to lead the fight against genocide and hate.
“We urge the Government of Canada to continue to work with our communities to ensure that ‘Never Again’ truly means ‘Never again’.”
As a member of the coalition of advocacy organizations representing victims of recognized genocides, CIJA is issuing this press release on behalf of all members.
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 (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the 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 that the genocide perpetrated against the Batutsi Rwandans is never forgotten.
- Established in 1940, 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 Rohingya Human Rights Network is a Canadian registered not-for-profit that raises awareness of the plight of Rohingya through education, advocacy, and human rights documentation work at Rohingya refugee camps and villages in Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- The Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project is a research, documentation and advocacy-based organization promoting the rights of Uyghur people in East Turkistan through a national and global campaign.
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