In Toronto jail: Not ‘a prisoner of conscience,’ says human rights body
National Post (Canada), June 17, 2003
Adrian Humphreys, National Post
Under pressure from supporters of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel to denounce his imprisonment, Amnesty International has instead issued a policy statement declaring it has no concerns over his incarceration.
“Amnesty International does not consider Ernst Zundel to be a prisoner of conscience and is not calling for his release,” says a statement issued by the London-based International Secretariat of Amnesty International.
“Amnesty International has reminded the Canadian government that numerous allegations of possible commission of hate crimes have been made against Ernst Zundel, largely stemming from his position with respect to the Holocaust.
“Those allegations must be investigated, leading to charges if borne out by the evidence,” says the statement.
The policy was drafted last week in response to a growing number of queries about the case.
Mr. Zundel’s supporters have been lobbying Amnesty International — the world’s foremost human rights organization — to join the campaign against his detention by the Canadian government.
Mr. Zundel is in jail in Toronto pending a Federal Court review of the government’s declaration that he is a threat to national security, an order requiring removal to his native Germany where he faces charges of inciting hatred.
“Amnesty International does not adopt persons who are imprisoned for ‘hate speech’ as prisoners of conscience,” Amnesty International’s statement says.
Mr. Zundel’s supporters lashed out at the organization over its decision.
“Amnesty International is not an honest organization — it is a Marxist front, in many people’s eyes,” said Ingrid Rimland, Mr. Zundel’s wife, in an interview with the National Post conducted through e-mail.
“[Amnesty International] did what politically correct courts do — they took ‘judicial notice’ that the Holocaust was essentially what Hollywood told the world it was.”
Ms. Rimland accused the organization of having a double standard, one that champions the cause of Nelson Mandela, the former president of South African who was imprisoned under the Apartheid regime, but turns its back on Mr. Zundel.
In an e-mail to Mr. Zundel’s supporters, she said of Amnesty International: “The minions pimping for the Canadian Holocaust Lobby are beginning to paint themselves nicely into a corner. They are a non-profit organization, flying under false flags — and ever more Zundel watchers world-wide are speculating that they are a Fifth Column Zionist front.”
Alex Neve, Secretary-General of the Canadian branch of Amnesty International, said his group has no hidden agenda or ulterior motives.
“Amnesty International stands for one thing and one thing only and that is the protection of human rights,” Mr. Neve said.
“When it comes to freedom of expression, there are some legitimate limits and inciting people to hatred is one such limit,” he said.
Amnesty International’s policy on the case reiterated, however, its concerns over the security certificate process under which Mr. Zundel was detained.
The government’s declaration ended his claim for refugee status after he was deported here from the United States.
Although not a Canadian citizen, Mr. Zundel lived for decades in Canada.
“We think refugee systems should be open,” Mr. Neve said.
“The minute we allow politicians to have any kind of role in deciding who gets access to the refugee systems and who does not, we just know from around the world that is bad news for genuine refugees,” he said.
The government said in court that Mr. Zundel is the figurehead or patriarch of the white supremacist ideology and that violence is a tool the movement uses.
Mr. Zundel, testifying earlier on his own behalf, denied allegations that he is involved in violence or advocates violence.
The judicial review of the security certificate against him continues next month.