Hold Iran accountable for incitement to genocide, Irwin Cotler urges

Canadian MP and former justice minister also calls to establish a Raoul Wallenberg International Centre for International Justice

Irwin Cotler speaks in Stockholm (photo credit: Screenshot, courtesy)
Irwin Cotler speaks in Stockholm (photo credit: Screenshot, courtesy)

Canadian MP and former justice minister Irwin Cotler on Wednesday called on the international community to hold Iran accountable for state-sanctioned incitement to genocide and violations of human rights.

Speaking at an international conference marking the official closing of the Swedish government’s Year of Raoul Wallenberg (Wallenberg 2012) — this year being the centenary of the diplomat’s birth — Cotler said, “As the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Canadian Parliament unanimously concluded: Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention… State Parties are obliged to undertake the legal measures to hold Iran accountable.”

The international human rights lawyer and emeritus professor of law at McGill University also called on Sweden to sign the Ottawa Protocol to Combat Anti-Semitism, adopted by some 150 Parliamentarians from more than 50 countries.

Cotler concluded with a call to establish a Raoul Wallenberg International Centre for International Justice, with linkages to the four countries of Wallenberg’s citizenship and honorary citizenship: Sweden, the US, Canada, and Israel.

The former chair of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Fate and Whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg, Cotler called on Russia to “Open up the blank spots of history and disclose the truth of Wallenberg’s fate.” He said, “The smoking gun is somewhere in Russian archives.”

Cotler’s address came after three days of high level ministerial, parliamentary and civil society meetings including with: former Prime Minister Goran Persson, who inspired the four Stockholm Conferences on Conscience and Humanity that Cotler had addressed in the past decade; Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on Middle East issues; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Jan Bjorklund, EU Minister and Minister responsible for democracy Birgitta Ohlsson, and Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag, on human rights, democracy and gender equality issues.

After hosting Wallenberg’s niece Louise von Dardel on her first visit to Canada in November and the opening of the Wallenberg exhibit “For Me There Was No Other Choice” in Ottawa, Cotler met in Sweden with Wallenberg’s sister and family members in a series of moving encounters. Cotler also held a reunion with long-time friend and former deputy prime minister Per Ahlmark with whom he had been engaged in the human rights struggle for the past 35 years.

Cotler raised a litany of human rights atrocities today — including the mass killing in Syria — asking, “Where is the Raoul Wallenberg of today?” while decrying the international community as by-standers. Cotler asked the audience to stand in solidarity with political prisoners around the world who have put their lives on the line in the struggle for freedom.

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