An open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau
15 June 2016
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Dear Mr. Trudeau,
It is with utter disgust that I watched your comments yesterday in regards to the Conservative motion calling the atrocities of ISIL are genocide. You said: “We will not trivialise the importance of the word genocide by not respecting formal engagements around that word.” You also said that it wasn’t the place of partisan politicians to decide what is or isn’t a genocide.
My first question is- If not politicians, then who? You were elected by Canadians to the highest office in our land. Are you saying you are not able to look at the evidence provided and say, “Yes. This is genocide.” Can you not say the word? You are our leader and yet you require a ruling from the United Nations to be able to say that this is genocide?
According to the sixth article of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998, which Canada has ratified, “genocide” means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Within these guidelines, can you not make a judgement that ISIL is committing genocide?
Current estimates of Yazidis murdered by ISIL is 5000 -primarily males. Up to 7000 Yazidi females have been abducted and sold into sexual slavery. Those who were pregnant at abduction had forced abortions. Small children have been forced to convert to Islam or be killed. Last week, 19 Yazidi girls were burned alive in metal cages for refusing to have sex with their captors. I think, Mr. Prime Minister, that the requirements of genocide have been met. I have not even listed the crimes against Christian and Shia populations.
You make great political hay of your feminism, and yet you seem unable to stand up for these women who are being abused and defiled in the worst way. Are you only a feminist when it is easy? Are you only a feminist when it can earn you votes? Or are you only a feminist when there is an opportunity for a smile and a photo? These women need your protection, Mr. Prime Minister.
As you are no doubt aware, ISIL is a group which has no moral compunctions regarding the treatment of captive populations, prisoners of war, or the press. Last month they murdered 25 ‘spies’ by lowering them into nitric acid until their organs dissolved. They throw homosexuals off buildings. They behead those of religions they do not agree with.
Still, you cannot call their actions genocide. Do you not have the intestinal fortitude, Mr. Trudeau? Can you not take a stand? I listen to your words and I’m reminded of the words of Christine Shelley of the United States State Department on June 10, 1994 when being questioned about the situation in Rwanda.
CHRISTINE SHELLEY: We have every reason to believe that acts of genocide have occurred.
ALAN ELSNER: How many acts of genocide does it take to make genocide?
CHRISTINE SHELLEY: Alan, that’s just not a question that I’m in a position to answer.
So I ask you, Mr. Prime Minister, almost twenty-two years to the day, how many acts of genocide must ISIL commit before you will admit that this is a genocide? You are not a low level flunky. You are the Prime Minister of Canada.
I did not vote for you, Mr. Trudeau. I could not. I was away from Canada for eight years and was disenfranchised under Canadian voting law. But even before my return to Canada, I’ve watched my country’s reaction to this situation. I felt the previous government did not do enough to ease this situation and now you’ve scaled back airstrikes against ISIL. You’ve brought over 25 000 Syrian refugees. None to my knowledge are Christian or Yazidi. Clearly you have turned your back on those most at risk. One has to wonder at your motives.
Canadian Liberal governments have an atrocious track record when it comes to genocide. From Mackenzie King to Chrétien, there is a black mark against your party. I beg you to be better than your predecessors. You say you’ve brought Canada back to the world stage. Prove it. Be the leader you so ardently profess to being. Stand up for the weak. Canadians will follow a leader into the fire for a righteous cause as we have proven so many times before.