Stockholm – Irwin Cotler, Canadian Member of Parliament and former Minister of Justice of Canada – delivering the concluding address on ” Raoul Wallenberg and His Humanitarian Legacy : Universal Lessons for Our Time” – called on the international community to hold Iran to account for their state-sanctioned incitement to genocide and its massive violations of the human rights of the Iranian people.
Said Cotler, ” 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.”
Cotler lamented the fact that not one State Party had yet undertaken any such initiative and called on Sweden to join like-minded democracies in so doing.
A distinguished international human rights lawyer and emeritus professor of law at McGill University, Cotler, honourary chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism also called on Sweden to sign the Ottawa Protocol to Combat Antisemitism – adopted by some 150 Parliamentarians from over 50 countries and which serves as a blueprint for Parliamentary, Governmental and Citizen action to combat antisemitism.
The former chair of the International Commission on the Fate and Whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg, also 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 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.
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.
Cotler, echoing a Conference theme that the “Past Is The Future”, proposed a plan for the establishment of a Raoul Wallenberg Centre for International Justice that would reflect and represent Wallenberg’s humanitarian legacy.
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 sisterand family members in a series of moving encounters. Cotler also held a moving 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.