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Pana Merchant

The Hon. Pana  Merchant, B.A. Appointed to the Senate by the Rt. Honourable Jean Chrétien, Senator Pana Merchant represents the province of Saskatchewan and the Senatorial Division of Saskatchewan. She has served in the Senate of Canada since December 12, 2002.

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Rwandan Genocide

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Statement made on 02 April 2009 by Senator Yoine Goldstein (retired)

Hon. Yoine Goldstein:

Honourable senators, this April 7 will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Normally, we have the privilege of having with us and hearing from Senator Dallaire, a man who bore witness to this devil's plan and who fought with every ounce of his being to stand in its way. Unfortunately, he suffered an accident. I am pleased to tell honourable senators that he is recovering well, and I have the privilege to speak in his place.

I wish to take a moment to recognize this tragic event and to pay tribute by remembering those who suffered the unspeakable pain and distress of this genocide. I would like to reflect on what we have done and what more we can do to ensure that we learn all that we can learn and do all that we can do to prevent this kind of genocide from ever happening again.

Honourable senators will recall that on April 7, 1994, the morning after Rwanda's President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down by rocket fire, events were set in motion that would result, in 100 days, in the systematic killing of nearly one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu.

In the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, the world united to chant in unison that genocide would never again be permitted to occur. Honourable senators will recall that chant has been repeated countless times, and genocides have been repeated countless times.

In this regard, Canada, while it cannot claim to have an unblemished record, has been a leader on the world stage. We played a pivotal role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court that labours to put to an end the impunity of those who perpetrate genocide and other crimes against humanity.

There is also the concept of Responsibility to Protect, R2P, according to which a sovereign state cannot hide behind the concept of sovereignty to murder its own citizens; and that all states have the responsibility to protect their own and to intervene when other states do not protect their residents.

R2P gained worldwide support, in no small measure, due to Canadian efforts of which we may be justly proud. R2P has met many challenges, not the least of which is the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Many admirable individuals, including some of our honourable senators and members from the other place, continue to work and to bring to the concept the legitimacy and support that it needs to be effective. R2P should be supported and should be actively spoken to.

This brings me to my last issue. While we commemorate the 15 years since the genocide in Rwanda, we should remember that genocide has been unfolding in Darfur for seven years now. It is likely to worsen.

I express my sincere admiration for all who survive. I know not where they find the courage to continue to live in search of peace.

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