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Wallenberg Centre Updates

April is Genocide Remembrance, Condemnation and Prevention Month. Within a period of just a few weeks, the world world marks the 30th anniversary of the Genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda (April 7th), the 20th anniversary of the Darfur genocide and one year since renewed conflict in Sudan broke out (April 15th), Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (April 24th), and Holocaust Remembrance Day/ Yom Ha Shoah (May 5th).

Seventy five years ago, United Nations member states approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – a treaty born out of the desire to ensure that “never again” would people face atrocities such as those inflicted by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Much more than a vague, kind-hearted wish for all people to avoid this most horrible of fates, Never again is a call to action, and it demands that we uphold our commitment to act with consistency and courage, and without exception.

It is well within our collective power to finally put an end to the scourge that is genocide. We continue to urge the international community to take urgent and necessary steps to protect all those who are being targeted for extermination.

Sounding the Alarm for Darfur

Less than 20 years after the Darfur genocide, history is repeating itself in Sudan: The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a reincarnation of the Janjaweed, is systematically targeting non-Arab ethnic groups for destruction.

The world’s largest humanitarian disaster - with over 7 million people displaced and large-scale famine looming - is unfolding in Sudan right now, while the world’s attention remains almost entirely elsewhere.

Watch for our groundbreaking independent inquiry into the ongoing genocide in Sudan later this month.

Please plan to join us in sounding the alarm by amplifying our messages. Please also consider donating to our ongoing efforts to make Never again more than just nice words.

Ottawa Advocacy

This March, we travelled with an all-women delegation of bereaved Canadian families to Ottawa, where we spoke out on behalf of murdered and abducted Canadian women victims of the October 7th terrorist atrocities in Israel.

Drawing attention to grave sexual and gender-based crimes, as well as to the violence that continues to be perpetrated against women being held hostage, our delegation called for sanctions against Hamas leaders, designating their backers, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as a terrorist organization, and an RCMP investigation into the heinous crimes committed against Canadian nationals.

Our advocacy included high-level meetings with leaders of Government, Parliament, and civil society representatives, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Opposition Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General Arif Virani.

During our pursuit of justice in Ottawa, we highlighted the death of Toronto’s Judih Weinstein, who was murdered during the October 7th attacks and whose remains are still illegally held in Gaza in a standing war crime. Her daughter, Iris Weinstein Haggai, continues to advocate to secure a dignified burial for her mother - the only remaining Canadian hostage in Gaza - and to free her friends and neighbours who are still held in Gaza.

“This visit to Ottawa – underpinned by the recent findings of the UN of ongoing grave sexual and gender-based crimes – underscored the urgent need for Canada to ensure accountability and justice for Hamas crimes against Canadians, and to take a leadership role in securing the release of Hamas hostages. Every day that these hostages are in Hamas captivity is a standing crime against humanity.” - Irwin Cotler, RWCHR Founder and International Chair.

A New Beginning: Hazara Orphans Arrive Safely in Canada

In these challenging times, we are pleased - and extremely relieved - to share that we recently welcomed thirteen Hazara orphans to Canada.

The Hazaras have been the subjects of intense persecution in Afghanistan for over a century.

“This initiative has been a priority for our Centre since the 2021 Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and we are grateful to report that these girls are now safe and sound here in Canada.” - Gila Cotler, CEO, Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights

The journey to bring them here was fraught with challenges, but thanks to the dedicated efforts of our team and invaluable support from our partners, this lifesaving work has come to fruition.

In their own words, here is what this rescue and resettlement experience has meant to the girls, who are part of a group called Ashyana:

The security of the Hazara people under the Taliban’s rule remains of major concern to us. Since the Taliban’s return to power, at least two major massacres in Afghanistan have targeted Hazara citizens, with no regard for age or gender.

Magnitsky Sanctions

We are delighted to share our new Canadian Magnitsky-Style Sanctions Submission Guide, tailored for Global Affairs Canada. This template serves as a key resource for victim groups, other NGOs, human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, and academics who are pursuing the designation of perpetrators under Canada’s Sanctions Regime.

Our new guide is just part of a whole new section of our website dedicated to our ever-expanding sanctions advocacy work.

We are also proud to now host Canada’s only publicly available comprehensive targeted sanctions database. As of our latest count, Canada has imposed 852 Magnitsky-style sanctions against 714 individuals and 138 entities for gross human rights abuses and acts of corruption. We look forward to seeing those numbers continue to rise as Canada holds more individuals and entities to account for the harm they cause.

Magnitsky-style sanctions represent a powerful, relatively new tool for promoting human rights and global justice. We are dedicated to using them - and to helping others use them - to further these goals.

From Beyond the Bars: The Quest for Freedom and Democracy in Russia.

This week, we were proud to co-sponsor a major advocacy event to mark the two-year anniversary of the Kremlin’s unjust jailing of Russian prisoner of conscience Vladimir Kara-Murza. The event was hosted by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and organized by our partners at NED (the National Endowment for Democracy).

To watch the replay, including remarks by Irwin Cotler and over a dozen other high profile speakers, see here.

Vladimir Kara-Murza is our friend and Senior Fellow as well as Canada’s newest honorary Canadian citizen. His health has deteriorated significantly in jail, and we are deeply concerned for his life. Our current advocacy on his behalf includes renewed efforts to have him designated “wrongfully detained” under the Levinson Act in the United States and several major international legal interventions.

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